As expected, the new report by the Government Accountability Office pours a bucketful of cold water on those who think “victory” is at hand in Iraq. Points of note:
- The number of Iraqi troops capable of performing operations without coalition assistance is less than 50,000. Point of comparison: American-armed Sunni groups (Sahwat, SoI, CLC, etc.) now number more than 100,000, many (if not most) of them battle-hardened former insurgents. Add to this the other militias — JAM alone reportedly has thousands of fighters –, and you begin to see where the real centre of gravity is.
- Iraq is not “fixing itself”. “Violence and sectarian strife, shortage of skilled labor, and weak procurement and budgeting systems have hampered Iraq’s efforts to spend capital budgets and thereby contribute to its own rebuilding.”
- The government is not taking care of its people. “Several factors present challenges in delivering essential services, including an unstable security environment, corruption, a lack of technical capacity, and inadequate strategic planning.”
- Sectarianism and corruption are rampant at all levels of government, particularly at MoI and MoD.