Tuesday, December 30, 2008

November 2008 Iraq Index By The Brookings Institution

Each month the Brookings Institution puts out its Iraq Index. It’s a compendium of various statistics on violence, economic development, social indicators, and public opinion. The November 2008 edition was recently released. While it gives a good list of numbers, like previous reports, the major drawback is that many of them date back to 2006 and 2007 when newer ones are available. The latest Index shows that civilian deaths are down to the lowest level since 2003. Attacks on Coalition forces are down to 2004 levels, and attacks on Iraqi forces are the lowest since war began. There are still mass casualty bombings however at the same casualty rates as early 2005. Displacement is down to about 10,000 per month. Reconciliation is still shaky. U.S. casualties are minimal, but the psychological toll is increasing, especially with those that have deployed to Iraq for more than one tour. Finally, the aggregate economic numbers for Iraq are up, largely due to oil, while many of the country’s professionals have fled and not returned. While violence was Iraq’s most pressing issue, the Iraq Index shows that the country still has a long way to go before it becomes a healthy and stable one.


Since the Surge all types of attacks and casualties are down in Iraq. Civilian deaths are at their lowest since the 2003 invasion. At the beginning of 2007 approximately 3,500 civilians were killed according to the Pentagon. Since January there has been a steady drop down to 600 in January 2008. After the security operations against the Mahdi Army that started in March, deaths have leveled off to around 500 deaths per month. This is the lowest number since the invasion. In comparison in May 2003 866 Iraqis were killed.

Coalition and Iraqi forces’ casualties are also down. The number of weekly attacks against the Coalition began dropping in June 2007. In September 2008 there were 390 per week, the lowest since 2004. Attacks on Iraqi forces are also down with only 25 killed in November 2008, a number not seen since the U.S. invasion.

Mass casualty bombings are the only thing that has not dropped as precipitously. In the first four months of 2005 there was an average of 20 bombings a month. From August to November 2008 there were an average of 19.75 such attacks. The casualties from these bombings are also down from 211 in January 2008 to 197 in June to 136 in November.

Iraqi Civilian Deaths 2003-2008:
May 2003: 866
August 2003: 1,292 highest for year
October 2004: 2,638 highest for year
August 2005: 3,303 highest for year
October 2006: 3,709 highest for year
January 2007: 3,500 highest for year
February 2007: 2,700
March 07: 2,400
April 07: 2,500
May 07: 2,600
June 2007: 1,950
July 07: 2,350
August 07: 2,000
September 07: 1,100
October 07: 950
November 07: 750
December 2007: 750
January 2008: 600
February 2008: 700
March 2008: 750
April 2008: 950
May 2008: 550
June 2008: 490
July 2008: 550
August 2008: 500
September 2008: 490

Note: The numbers from January 2007 to September 2008 are derived from charts provided by the Pentagon and are only approximations

Iraqi Forces Killed Per Month 2007-2008
Monthly Average April 2003 to May 2004: 65
January 2007: 91
February 2007: 150
March 2007: 215
April 2007: 300
May 2007: 197
June 2007: 197
July 2007: 232
August 2007: 76
September 2007: 96
October 2007: 114
November 2007: 89
December 2007: 72
January 2008: 69
February 2008: 110
March 2008: 161
April 2008: 113
May 2008: 110
June 2008: 77
July 2008: 98
August 2008: 85
September 2008: 98
October 2008: 48
November 2008: 25

Number Of Mass Casualty Bombings
May 2003: 0
December 2003: 14
January 2004: 9
June 2004: 19
December 2004: 17
January 2005: 28
February 2005: 18
March 2005: 13
April 2005: 21
June 2005: 34
December 2005: 21
January 2006: 30
June 2006: 56
December 2006: 65
January 2007: 69
June 2007: 42
November 2007: 22
December 2007: 23
January 2008: 24
February 2008: 21
March 2008: 28
April 2008: 21
May 2008: 14
June 2008: 19
July 2008: 19
August 2008: 22
September 2008: 22
October 2008: 14
November 2008: 21

Deaths From Mass Casualty Bombings 2008:
January 2008: 211
February 2008: 281
March 2008: 278
April 2008: 205
May 2008: 131
June 2008: 197
July 2008: 181
August 2008: 195
September 2008: 164
October 2008: 102
November 2008: 136


While Iraq has passed a number of reconciliation laws, the implementation has been uneven. For these reasons the Brookings Institution gives the country a mixed rating. Out of a total of 11 possible points, Iraq rated a 6.0. The 2008 budget, the Pension Law, and purging the government of extremists were given the highest rating, while the Accountability and Justice Law, which is meant to replace the deBaathification process, the Amnesty Law, integrating the Sons of Iraq, funding the provinces, the Provincial Powers Act, and the provincial election law were all given mixed reviews because they have been unevenly implemented. Dealing with Kirkuk and passing a hydrocarbon law were given failing grades as little has happened with them.

Brookings’ Rating Of Benchmark Reconciliation Acts:
Note: Each issue can be given a 0, 0.5 or 1 with 0 being bad and 1 good. The highest possible score is 11.
2008 Budget – 1
Pension law – 1
Purging extremists from the government – 1
Accountability an Justice Law – 0.5
Integrating Sons of Iraq – 0.5
Amnesty Law – 0.5
Funding of provinces – 0.5
Provincial election law – 0.5
Kirkuk – 0
Hydrocarbon law – 0
TOTAL: 6.0 out of 11

U.S. Forces In Iraq

Casualties for U.S. forces are down, but the costs of repeated deployments are increasing. U.S. killed and wounded have dropped to the lowest levels since the U.S. invasion. From March 2003 to November 1, 2008 4,182 Americans have been killed. The overwhelming majority have been active duty, 3,410, and come from the Army, 3,035. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) use to be the most deadly weapon used against American forces, but now they are down to 2003 levels. Of the 513,000 U.S. troops that have gone to Iraq, over 197,000 of them have been deployed more than once, and 53,000 have gone three or more times. Those that have gone on multiple deployments face a greater likelihood of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

U.S. Troop Fatalities December 2007-November 2008:
December 2007: 23
January 2008: 40
February 2008: 29
March 2008: 39
April 2008: 52
May 2008: 19
June 2008: 29
July 2008: 13
August 2008: 23
September 2008: 25
October 2008: 17
November 2008: 15

U.S. Troops Wounded November 2007-November 2008:
November 2007: 203
December 2007: 213
January 2008: 234
February 2008: 216
March 2008: 327
April 2008: 331
May 2008: 197
June 2008: 143
July 2008: 150
August 2008: 107
September 2008: 91
October 2008: 82
November 2008: 84

U.S. Military Casualties From 3/19/03 to 11/1/08:
Total Deaths: 4,182
  • Men: 4,081
  • Women: 101
  • Younger than 22: 1,226
  • 22-24: 1,020
  • 25-30: 1,061
  • 31-35: 408
  • Older than 35: 467
  • Active Duty: 3,410
  • Reserve: 305
  • National Guard: 467
  • Army: 3,035
  • Marines: 1,003
  • Navy: 95
  • Air Force: 48
  • Coast Guard: 1
  • American Indian: 42
  • Multi-race/Unknown: 45
  • Pacific Islander: 48
  • Asian: 79
  • Black: 339
  • Latino: 446
  • White: 3,124

U.S. Deaths by IED’s December 2007-November 2008:
December 2007: 9
January 2008: 23
February 2008: 17
March 2008: 26
April 2008: 26
April 2008: 29
May 2008: 12
June 2007: 14
July 2008: 3
August 2008: 7
September 2008: 4
October 2008: 2
November 2008: 2

U.S. Troop Deployment:
Total since 2003: 513,000
Deployed more than once: 197,000+
Deployed three or more times: 53,000

Percentage of Non-Commissioned Officers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:
First deployment: 12%
Second deployment: 18.5%
Third of fourth deployment: 27%

Percentage of U.S. Active Duty Military Who Have Served in Iraq or Afghanistan:

Insurgent Activity

As the casualty numbers reveal, violence is down across Iraq since the Surge. There are still pockets of instability however. Baghdad remains the most violent province of Iraq. Insurgent attacks have gone largely unchanged in Salahaddin, while they have increased in Ninewa. Diyala, the other unstable governorates has seen a 66% decline in insurgent activity compared to the average number of attacks from 2005-2008. In comparison, Kurdistan and much of the south are relatively peaceful.

Number of Daily Insurgent Attacks By Province: December 2007-May 2008 Compared to 2005-2008 Average
Baghdad: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 15.7, Feb.-May 08: 24.0, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 32.8
Ninewa: Dec. 07-Feb.08: 16.3, Feb.-May 08: 13.7, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 11.9
Salahaddin: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 8.8, Feb.-May 08: 6.2, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 6.2
Diyala: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 5.2, Feb.-May 08: 3.8, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 12.1
Anbar: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 2.4, Feb.-May 08: 2.0, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 19.2
Tamim: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 2.7, Feb.-May 08: 1.9, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 4.5
Basra: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 1.6, Feb.-May 08: 1.5, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 3.9
Babil: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 0.7, Feb.-May 08: 0.8, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 2.0
Wasit: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 0.3, Feb.-May 08: 0.5, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 0.7
Dhi Qar: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 0.3, Feb.-May 08: 0.3, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 0.5
Qadisiyah: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 0.2, Feb.-May 08: 0.2, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 0.9
Karbala: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 0.1, Feb.-May 08: 0.1, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 0.2
Maysan: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 0.1, Feb.-May 08: 0.0, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 0.4
Muthanna: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 0.1, Feb.-May 08: 0.0, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 0.2
Najaf: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 0.0, Feb.-May 08: 0.0, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 0.1
Irbil: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 0.1, Feb.-May 08: 0.0, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 0.1
Sulaymaniyah: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 0.1, Feb.-May 08: 0.0, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 0.1
Dohuk: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 0.0, Feb.-May 08: 0.0, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 0.1
TOTAL: Dec. 07-Feb. 08: 54.7, Feb.-May 08: 55.0, Avg. Attacks from Feb. 05-May 08: 106.4

Iraqi Forces

Iraqi forces continue to grow. In January 2004 there were just over 108,000 police, soldiers, and border guards. By November 2008 there were over 550,000. There are plans for even more expansion with new equipment purchases and recruiting.

Iraqi Force Growth Totals (Police, National Guard – Ended in January 2005, Iraqi Armed Forces, Border Patrol):
May 2003: 7,000-9,000
January 2004: 108,800
January 2005: 125,373
January 2006: 227,300
January 2007: 323,000
June 2007: 353,100
December 2007: 439,678
January 2008: 441,779
June 2008: 478,524
November 2008: 558,279

Political Freedoms

There were three rankings of Iraq’s political system in the Iraq Index. Brookings rated Iraq quite high on political freedom compared to other countries in the Middle East. Based upon elections, fairness, the right to organize, power of politicians, existence of an opposition, transparency, minority participation, corruption, freedom of assembly, press and religion, independence of judiciary, rule of law, and property rights, Iraq was ranked fourth out of 20 with a score of 5.05. Israel was ranked the most free at 8.2 with Libya the least at 2.05. Reporters Without Borders and Transparency International however ranked Iraq near the bottom in the world in terms of press freedom and corruption. In 2008 Iraq was 158 out of 173 countries in media freedom, while 178 out of 180 nations in corruption.

Index of Political Freedom:
Note: Each country was scored on a 10-point system with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest.
Israel: 8.20
Lebanon: 6.55
Morocco: 5.20
Iraq: 5.05
Palestine: 5.05
Kuwait: 4.90
Tunisia: 4.60
Jordan: 4.45
Qatar: 4.45
Egypt: 4.30
Sudan: 4.30
Yemen: 4.30
Algeria: 4.15
Oman: 4.00
Bahrain: 3.85
Iran: 3.85
United Arab Emirates: 3.70
Saudi Arabia: 2.80
Syria: 2.80
Libya: 20.05

Iraq’s Rank In Reporters Without Borders’ Annual Press Freedom Index:
2003: Rank Tied for 124 out of 166 countries
2004: 148 out of 167 countries
2005: 157 out of 167 countries
2006: 154 out of 168 countries
2007: 157 out of 169 countries
2008: 158 out of 173 countries

Iraq’s Rank In Transparency International’s Corruption Index:
2003: Tied for 113 out of 133 countries
2004: Tied for 129 out of 146 countries
2005: Tied for 137 out of 159 countries
2006: Tied for 160 out of 163 countries
2007: 178 out of 180

Iraq’s Political System

In 2005 Iraq held two elections for government. The first was for provincial councils, and the second for parliament. The elections were known for their sectarianism, as the major Shiite, Kurdish, and Sunni coalitions won the majority of seats. The secular Iraqi National List was the only other group to win a large number of seats. No group won an outright majority however so the cabinet positions were divided up between the major parties, along with a few independents and smaller parties.

Seats In Parliament By Party:
United Iraqi Alliance: 83
Kurdish Alliance: 53
Iraqi Accordance Front: 44
Sadrist Movement: 30
Iraqi National List: 25
Fadhila Party: 15
Iraqi National Dialogue Front: 11
Islamic Union of Kurdistan: 5
Liberation and Reconciliation Bloc: 3
Message Carries: 3
Mothal Alousi List for the Iraqi Nation: 1
Iraqi Turkoman Front: 1
Yazidi Movement for Progress and Reform: 1
Al Rafadeen List: 1

Iraqi Leadership:
  • Prime Minister: Nouri al-Maliki, Shiite, Dawa
  • Deputy Prime Minister: Barham Salih, Kurd, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
  • Deputy Prime Minister: Rafie al-Issawi, Sunni, Iraqi People’s Conference, member of Iraqi Accordance Front
  • President: Jalal Talabani, Kurd, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
  • Vice President: Tarqi al-Heshemi, Sunni, Iraqi Islamic Party, part of Iraqi Accordance Front
  • Vice President: Adel Abd al-Mahdi, Shiite, Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council

Iraqi Cabinet:
  • Trade Minister: Abd al-Falah al-Sudani, Shiite, Dawa
  • Education Minister: Khudayr al-Khuzai, Shiite, Dawa
  • National Security Minister: Shirwan al-Waili, Shiite, Dawa
  • Muncipalities & Public Works Minister: Riyadh Gharib, Shiite, Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council
  • Finance & Banking Minister: Bayan Jabr, Shiite, Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council
  • National Dialogue Minister: Akram al-Hakim, Shiite, Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council
  • Tourism & Antiquities Minister: Qahtan Abbas Numan al-Jiburi, Shiite, United Iraqi Alliance, appointed 7/18/08
  • Provincial Affairs Minister: Safa al-Safi, Shiite, United Iraqi Alliance, appointed7/18/08
  • Transportation Minister: Amir Abd al-Jabar Ismail, Shiite, United Iraqi Alliance, appointed 7/18/08
  • Civil Society Minister: Thamir Jaraf al-Zubaydi, Shiite, United Iraqi Alliance, appointed 7/18/08
  • Minister of State Without Portfolio: Hasan Radhi Kazim al-Sari, Shiite, Hezbollah Movement in Iraq, close to Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council
  • Science & Technology Minister: Raid Fahmi Jahid, Shiite, Iraqi Communist Party
  • Oil Minister: Hussain al-Shahristani, Shiite, Independent
  • Agriculture Minister: Ali al-Bahadii, Shiite, Independent
  • Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Safa al-Din Muhammad al-Safi, Shiite, Independent
  • Labor & Social Affairs Minister: Mahmud Muhammad Jawad al-Radi, Shiite, Independent
  • Interior Minister: Jawad al-Bolani, Shiite, Independent
  • Electricity Minister: Karim Wahid al-hasan, Shiite, Independent
  • Water Minister: Latif Rashid, Kurd, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
  • Environment Minister: Nermin Othman, Kurd, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
  • Housing & Construction Minister: Bayan Dizayee, Kurd, Kurdistan Democratic Party
  • Industry & Minerals Minister: Fawzi al-Hariri, Christian Kurd, Kurdistan Democratic Party
  • Foreign Affairs: Hoshyar Mahmud Zebari, Kurd, Kurdistan Democratic Party
  • Displacement & Migraiton Minister: Abd al-Samad Sultan, Kurd, Faili Kurd
  • Human Rights Minister: Wijdan Mikhail Salim, Christian Kurd, Iraqi National Accord
  • Minister of State Without Portfolio: Ali Muhammad Ahmad, Kurd, Kurdistan Islamic Union
  • Culture Minister: Mahir Dalli Ibrahim al-Hadithi, Sunni, General Council for the People of Iraq, member of Iraqi Accordance Front, appointed 7/18/08
  • Higher Education Minister: Dr. Abd Dhiyab al-Ujayli, Sunni, Iraqi Islamic Party, member of Iraqi Accordance Front, appointed 7/18/08
  • Women’s Affairs Minister: Dr. Nawal Majid Hamid al-Samarr, Sunni, Iraqi Islamic Party, member of Iraqi Accordance Front, appointed 7/18/08
  • Foreign Affairs Minister: Dr. Muhammad Munajid Ifan al-Dulaymi, Sunni,Iraqi Accordance Front, appointed 7/18/08
  • Communications Minister: Faruq Abdul Qadir Abdul Rahman, Sunni, Iraqi Accordance Front
  • Planning Minister: Ali Baban, Sunni, Independent
  • Defense Minister: Abd al-Qadir Muhammad Jasim, Sunni, Independent
  • Minister of State Without Portfolio: Muhammad Abbas al-Uraybi, Shiite, Iraqi National List
  • Youth & Sport Minister: Jasim Muhammad Jafar, Shiite, Turkoman Islamic Union
  • Justice Minister, empty

Iraq’s Economy

Oil continues to dominate Iraq. The rise in oil prices is largely responsible for the growth of the Iraqi economy. Production however has been spotty since the U.S. invasion, regularly going up and down. In December 2003 Iraq produced 2.3 million barrels a day of crude, and in November 2008 there was little change at 2.39 million barrels. Exports have seen more of a gradual increase, but it is still a minimal one. In December 2003 there were 1.541 million barrels of oil exported, compared to 1.82 million in November 2008. Despite this lack of growth in production, Iraq’s economy has expanded from a -41.4% GDP decline in 2003 because of the invasion to a 7.0% GDP growth in 2008, largely funded by petroleum, and a massive influx of foreign assistance. Because of the improved security, Iraq is also finally attracting investment from other countries as well. Trade with neighboring states, especially Iran is also increasing. Not mentioned in the report however, is the fact that most of these products undermine Iraqi companies.

Iraqi Oil Production (Millions of Barrels/Day):
Estimated pre-war level 2.5
May 03: 0.3
December 03: 2.3
January 04: 2.44
June 04: 2.295
December 04: 2.16
January 05: 2.1
June 05: 2.17
December 05: 1.92
January 06: 1.73
June 06: 2.3
December 06: 2.15
January 07: 1.66
June 07: 2.0
December 07: 2.42
January 08: 2.24
February 08: 2.39
March 08: 2.38
April 08: 2.40
May 08: 2.50
June 08: 2.52
July 08: 2.54
August 08: 2.50
September 08: 2.37
October 08: 2.37
November 08: 2.39
Government Goal: 2.1

Oil Exports (Millions of Barrels/Day):
Estimated pre-war level: 1.7-2.5
May 03: 0
December 03: 1.541
January 04: 1.537
June 4: 1.148
December 04: 1.520
January 05: 1.367
June 05: 1.377
December 05: 1.071
January 06: 1.05
June 06: 1.67
December 06: 1.45
January 07: 1.30
June 07: 1.47
December 07: 1.93
January 08: 1.93
February 08: 1.93
March 08: 1.88
April 08: 1.96
May 08: 1.96
June 08: 1.96
July 08: 1.85
August 08: 1.70
September 08: 1.65
October 08: 1.69
November 08: 1.82

Oil Revenue From Exports ($ billions)
June 03: $0.2
December 03: $1.26
January 04: $1.26
June 04: $1.28
December 04: $1.44
January 05: $1.49
June 05: $2.03
December 05: $1.6
January 06: $1.84
June 06: $3.03
December 06: $2.46
January 07: $1.89
June 07: $2.87
December 07: $4.27
January 08: $5.21
February 08: $4.94
March 08: $5.94
April 08: $5.77
May 08: $6.65
June 08: $6.99
July 08: $7.01
August 08: $5.65
September 08: $4.64
October 08: $3.68
November 08: $1.82

Estimated Amount of Foreign Direct Investment Attracted Per Month in Iraq
2004: $10 million
2005: $10 million
2006: $10 million
2007: $10 million
2008: $100 million

Annual Tariff Collected At Iraq’s Zurbatiyah Border Crossing In Wasit With Iran
2006: $800,000
2007: $1,800,000
2008: $6,900,000

GDP Estimates and Projections 2002-2008

2002: GDP $20.5 bil, Per capita GDP $802, Real GDP Change: -7.8%
2003: GDP $13.6 bil, Per capita GDP $518, Real GDP Change: -41.4%
2004: GDP $25.7 bil, Per capita GDP $949, Real GDP Change: +46.5%
2005: GDP 34.5 bil, Per capita GDP $1,237, Real GDP Change: +3.7%
2006: GDP $48.5 bil, Per Capita GDP $1,687, Real GDP Change: +5.9%
2007: GDP $55.4 bil, Real GDP Change: +4.1%
2008: GDP $60.9 bil, Real GDP Change: +7.0%

U.S. Spending In Iraq

The United States has been the largest benefactor of Iraq since the U.S. invasion as one would expect. America has appropriated $20.8 billion for Iraqi reconstruction and security, with $20.2 billion of it obligated. That development project is coming to an end however as Iraq is expected to take on most of this responsibility next year. As the war has dragged on, the medical costs for the returning troops are also increasing with the VA medical bill reaching $1 billion in 2008 for Iraq war veterans. Including military expenditures, the U.S. will have spent $653.9 billion by the end of fiscal year 2009 on the war.

What’s interesting about the figures is that the U.S. has been unable to spend a vast majority of its money in Iraq’s provinces, something that Baghdad is regularly criticized for. In 2007 for example, America failed to spend 50% of its capital budget for projects in thirteen of Iraq’s eighteen provinces. From January to July 2008 things didn’t seem to have improved with the U.S. spending less than 10% of its money in nine governorates.

U.S. Aid For Iraq As Of November 2008:
Appropriated: $20.8 billion
Obligated: $20.2 billion
Disbursed: $19.4 billion

U.S. Money Appropriated for Operation Iraqi Freedom:
  • FY 2003: DOD $50.0 bil, Foreign Aid and Diplomatic Corps $3.0 bil, Total: $35.0 bil
  • FY 2004: DOD $56.4 bil, Foreign Aid and Diplomatic Corps $19.5 bil, Total: $75.9 bil
  • FY 2005: DOD $83.4 bil, Foreign Aid and Diplomatic Corps $2.0 bil, VA Medical 200 mil, Total: $85.5 bil
  • FY 2006: DOD $98.1 bil, Foreign Aid and Diplomatic Corps $3.2 bil, VA Medical 400 mil, Total: 102.0 bil
  • FY 2007: DOD $129.6 bil, Foreign Aid and Diplomatic Corps $3.2 bil, VA Medical 900 mil, Total: $133.6 bil
  • FY 2008: DOD $145.4 bil, Foreign Aid and Diplomatic Corps $2.8 bil, VA Medical 1 bil, Total: $149.2 bil
  • FY 2009: DOD $53.4 bil, Foreign Aid and Diplomatic Corps $800 mil, VA Medical $0, Total: $54.2 bil
  • Total FY 2003-2009: $653.3 bil

U.S. Capital Budget Expended By Province – 2007:
Diyala: $110 mil allocated, N/A expanded, N/A% expended
Anbar: $107 mil allocated, $4 mil expended, 4% expended
Muthanna: $52 mil allocated, $10 mil expended, 19% expended
Basra: $195 mil allocated, $41 mil expended, 21% expended
Ninewa: $226 mil allocated, $59 mil expended, 26% expended
Baghdad: $560 mil allocated, $174 mil expended, 31% expended
Salahaddin: $93 mil allocated, $32 mil expended, 34% expended
Tamim: $91 mil allocated, $31 mil expended, 34% expended
Qadisiyah: $64 mil allocated, $25 mil expended, 39% expended
Dhi Qar: $138 mil allocated, $55 mil expended, 40% expended
Karbala: $71 mil allocated, $29 mil expended, 41% expended
Wasit: $83 mil allocated, $34 mil expended, 41% expended
Babil: $127 mil allocated, $62 mil expended, 49% expended
Maysan: $76 mil allocated, $39 mil expended, 51% expended
Najaf: $88 mil allocated, $56 mil expended, 64% expended
Kurdistan (Dohuk, Irbil, Sulaymaniyah): $1,560 mil allocated, $1,487 mil expended, 95% expended

U.S. Capital Budget Expended By Province – January-July 2008:
Anbar: $192 mil allocated, N/A expended, N/A% expended
Diyala: $168 mil allocated, N/A expended, N/A% expended
Muthanna: $87 mil allocated, N/A expended, N/A% expended
Basra: $322 mil allocated, 0% expended, 0% expended
Ninewa: $359 mil allocated, 0% expended, 0% expended
Qadisiyah: $137 mil allocated, $0 expended, 0% expended
Dhi Qar: $219 mil allocated, 100,000 expended, 0.1% expended
Wasit: $137 mil allocated, 300,000 expended, 0.2% expended
Baghdad: $885 mil allocated, $15 mil expended, 2% expended
Babil: $206 mil allocated, $5 mil expended, 3% expended
Karbala: $170 mil allocated, $7 mil expended, 4% expended
Tamim: $146 mil allocated, $14 mil expended, 9% expended
Kurdistan (Douk, Irbil, Sulaymaniyah): $2,528 mil allocated, $266 mil expended, 11% expended
Salahaddin: $150 mil allocated, $16 mil expended, 11% expended
Najaf: $150 mil allocated, $19 mil expended, 13% expended
Maysan: $124 mil allocated, $17 mil expended, 14% expended

Judicial System

Like the rest of Iraq, the country’s judicial system had to start from scratch after the U.S. invasion. The Americans have been working on building up capacity, but it has been a slow and arduous process. The result is that Iraq still doesn’t have a functioning investigative or court system. The problem is with the huge amount of suspected insurgents arrested in the previous years that have completely overwhelmed the system. Violence is still directed at judges and lawyers as well. Corruption is also an issue with some. The number of judges is one indicator of progress. While the number has steadily increased, it is still not enough to deal with the caseload in the country.

Number of Trained Iraqi Judges:
May 2003: 0
June 2004: 175
May 2005: 351
October 2005: 351
August 2006: 740
November 2006: 800
January 2007: 870
August 2007: 1,100
November 2007: 1,200
March 2008: 1,200
June 2008: 1,180
40 judges have been assassinated since 2005
135 judges have been removed for corruption of because of the deBaathification process

Professional Brain Drain

There has been a massive brain drain since 2003. Many of the country’s professionals have fled the country. Even with violence subsiding since the Surge, few have come back. The Iraq Index provides numbers on Iraq’s doctors as an example of this debilitating loss of the country’s human capital.

Doctors In Iraq
Doctors before 2003 Invasion: 34,000
Doctors who have left since 2003: 20,000 estimate
Doctors murdered since 2003 invasion: 2,000
Doctors kidnapped: 250
Avg. salary of Iraqi doctor: 7.5 million dinars per year (around $5,100)
Annual graduates from Iraqi medical schools: 2,250
% of medical graduates that will work outside of Iraq: 20%


O’Hanlon, Michael and Campbell, Jason, “Iraq Index,” Brookings Institution, 11/20/08

Basra Federal Region Update

December 27, up to 3,000 people marched in the city of Basra in support of a federal region for the province. Parliamentarian and former governor of Basra Wail Abd al-Latif has proposed the idea. In November 2008 he turned in an initial petition with enough signatures for the Iraqi Election Commission to move forward on the plan. Latif and his followers now have to get 10% of the province’s voting population, approximately 140,939 people, to sign a second petition. That effort started on December 14, and they have until January 14 to finish. If they accomplish that there has to be an election within 15 days. The initiative will pass with 51% of the vote. A Basra federal region has been on the mind of Latif and others for quite some time, but will face opposition from many powerful parties.

Latif has been pushing the idea of a separate Basra region for several years now. In 2005 he first presented the plan as an amendment to the constitution. At the heart of the proposal is the deep-seated conviction amongst many Basrans that the central authorities and Baghdad have ignored them for generations. In turn, Latif has said that Basra needs a share of its vast oil wealth so that it can develop. This is a sizeable amount as the province has 60% of Iraq’s oil reserves, produces 1.8 million of Iraq’s 2.6 million barrels a day of crude, has the only major port through which the majority of the country’s petroleum exports pass through. He noted that the region would not be like Kurdistan however, and sign its own oil contracts, something he has been critical of the Kurdistan Regional Government in the past. Latif just wants Basra to receive a share of the oil profits.

The proposal has already gained a wide variety of supporters and detractors. The head of the Basra provincial council and the governor of the province were the first to publicly state they were for the idea. Their party, Fadhila, has had a similar plan for quite some time as well. In 2007 they said one dollar from each barrel of oil from Basra should go into a development fund for the province, while the governor twice called for a Basra federal region in 2008. They are already organizing social groups, and using their control of the provincial government to rally support. Several Shiite independents and tribes from the area are also pro-region. Finally, a parliamentarian from the Kurdish Alliance voiced support for the idea in November 2008 as well. Those opposed are the major Shiite and Sunni parties. First, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been centralizing power around him in 2008. He would be against a lessoning of Baghdad’s power, especially over the majority of the country’s oil reserves. Oil Minister Hussein Sharhistani, who is running with Maliki’s Dawa party in the provincial elections, has repeatedly stated that all oil profits must go through the central government as well. He recently opposed the Kurds' call for a share of the oil profits. Moqtada al-Sadr also believes in authority being centralized in Baghdad, and one of his spokesmen in Najaf said the Basra idea would be bad for the country. There have even been discussions between Dawa and the Sadrists, two deep-seated foes, to work together in the province to block the proposal. The Iraqi Islamic Party is also against, reflecting the fears of many Sunnis that the Shiites and Kurds will control much of the country’s oil. The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), although having little influence in Basra itself, has proposed a southern Shiite region before. A separate Basra area would hamper that idea. The Communist Party in Basra, and former Prime Minister Ilyad Allawi’s Iraqi National List are also in opposition.

Whether the Basra federal region goes up for a vote or not in January 2009 is a huge gamble for Latif and the Fadhila Party. It will happen just before the provincial elections on January 31. If the proposal passes both Latif and Fadhila will benefit. If it fails however, they will be going into the elections from a position of weakness. The Fadhila party is already widely unpopular for its lack of providing services and growth in Basra, and was a target of the government’s crackdown in March. The proposal also pits centralists like the Prime Minister against regionalists. Not only that, but local parties like Fadhila are against larger sectarian region backers such as the SIIC. The Oil Minister is also trying to fend off the Kurds' aspirations to control their oil, while building up the state’s capacity at a time when profits are dropping, and the country’s petroleum infrastructure is in dire need of repair. Having a Basra region with most of the oil reserves and the main pipeline and port could derail his plan. All of these factors have already pitted the major national parties against the local Basra ones. Intimidation, bribery, and the use of the security forces for political ends could all ensue to sway the process.


Abouzeid, Rania, “A New Twist in Iraq’s Shi’ite Power Struggle,” Time, 11/16/08

Agence France Presse, “Basra vote aims to benefit from Iraq oil wealth: planner,” 12/8/08

Alsumaria, “Basra heading towards independent region,” 11/17/08
- “Lights shed on federalism in Iraq Basra,” 11/13/08

Amara, Mostafa, “Kurds cannot collect oil royalties, says minister,” Azzaman, 12/22/08

Aswat al-Iraq, “Establishing Basra region easing off political congestion – MP,” 11/14/08
- “Sunni scholars, seculars object Basra federacy,” 11/15/08

Mohammed, Aref, “Thousands demand separate region for Iraq’s Basra,” Reuters, 12/27/08

Visser, Reidar, “The Basra Federalism Initiative Enters Stage Two,” Historiae.org, 12/15/08

Al-Wazzan, Saleem, “basra’s dominant parties expect to maintain power,” Niqash, 12/15/08

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Jockeying For Position Before The Provincial Elections In Diyala and Ninewa

Iraq’s provincial elections are just a little over a month away. In Diyala and Ninewa in the northern section of the country, the ruling Shiite and Kurdish parties are trying to fend off a possible surge in voting by Sunnis, who largely boycotted the last regional elections in 2005. As part of this jockeying for position politicians in both provinces have called for a delay in the voting.

In early December 2008 the head of Diyala’s provincial council Ibrahim Hassan Baglan said that the elections should be postponed there. Baglan suggested the balloting be held four to six months later until security can be improved. He claimed that most of the candidates in the province had been threatened, and noted that the military operation that started in July in Diyala was still going on. According to the council chief there were also 26,000 displaced Shiite families from the province that needed to be resettled and compensated by the government before the voting could take place. Baglan said that until that happened, the voting would be unfair because many Sunnis would be able to vote who were Baathists, while the Shiite refugees could not. Baglan made similar statements back on December 5, mentioning that insurgents would also try to influence the election.

Shiites currently control the Diyala provincial council, but Baglan’s comments represent their fear that the Sunnis will play a larger role this time. The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council holds 20 of the 41 council seats and the governorship. The Kurds hold seven seats, while the Sunnis have the remaining 14. There are now 46 individuals, parties and coalitions registered to run in the 2009 elections. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa Party is leading the Rule of Law Coalition, and has also established Tribal Support Councils in Diyala. The Kurds will have six parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Kurdistan Islamic Union, the Kurdistan Communist Party, the Drudging Kurdistan Party, and the Kurdistan Socialist Party. The Fadhila Party and the Iraqi National List of former Prime Minister Ilyad Allawi are also competing, while the Sadrists said they would run with independents, although it’s unknown whom these are. On the Sunni side the Iraqi Islamic Party is heading the Accordance And Reform Front. Three insurgent groups are running as the National Movement for Reform and Development. Various Sons of Iraq (SOI) are also appearing on the ballot. Many Sunnis boycotted the last provincial balloting in 2005, so they are hoping to make large gains this time. This is the reason why Baglan is calling for a delay and for refugees to be repatriated, so that the Shiites can hold onto power.

The Sunni parties also claim the government is working against them. Since the security operation in July hundreds of SOI and members of the Islamic Party have been arrested by the Army and police. One example was three SOI fighters who were picked up and then released the day before registration for the elections ended. They were hoping to run as candidates, but their detention made them ineligible. A member of Maliki’s office admitted that the arrests were probably political. This points to the Prime Minister’s increasing use of the security forces to achieve political ends.

Farther north in Ninewa the provincial council also wants to hold off on the election. On December 18, 19 of the 7 council members voted to postpone balloting. The Kurdistan Alliance (KA) made the proposal, and Kurds made all 19 of the pro votes, while the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and Islamic Party voted against it. Like Baglan in Diyala, the KA said that there were 45,000 displaced families in Dohuk and Irbil that would not be able to vote if the balloting was held in January. The Kurds said that some had been refugees since 1973, and therefore had never registered to vote. The Election Commission responded the next day saying that only they had the power to change the date of the elections, and that they would take place on time no matter what the provincial council thought.

Like in Diyala, the Sunnis of Ninewa are hoping to have a strong showing after the 2005 boycott, which worries the Kurds. The Iraqi Islamic Party is heading the largest Sunni coalition in the province. Many Sunnis want the disputed city of Mosul to be an Arab one. The Kurds on the other hand have aspirations to annex several northern parts of the province. They have tried to downplay the newly organized Sunnis by calling many of them former Baathists.

The upcoming elections in Diyala and Ninewa could lead to some real change for who runs the provincial councils, while at the same time be just a switch from one major party to another. The Kurds and Shiites that run the two provinces are afraid that the Sunnis will be able to take control of the councils because they largely boycotted the 2005 vote. The call for displaced families to return is an attempt to change the demographics to ensure their continued rule. The Sons of Iraq are a new means to organize Sunnis, and many of them are working with the Islamic Party to run in the elections. If they do win then, it will mean a shift from the major Kurdish and Shiite parties to the main Sunni one. That will empower the Sunnis, while also maintaining the dominance of the large parties that currently control the provincial and national governments. This is one of the major ironies of the upcoming vote. Few independents and new parties are expected to gain any real power. Sunnis need their say, but the Islamic Party has shown little ability to govern. Until they do the results of the 2009 elections may be more symbolic than substantive for their followers.


Abdullah, Muhammed, “calls to postpone diyala election,” Niqash, 12/10/08
- “Diyala Sees Early Campaigning,” Niqash, 12/8/08

Aswat al-Iraq, “Elections in Diala will not be fair, says head of provincial council,” 12/5/08
- “IHEC says elections in Ninewa on time,” 12/19/08
- “KA takes part in Diala elections with 6 parties,” 12/3/08
- “Ninewa council votes for postponing local elections,” 12/18/08

DPA, “Head of Iraqi provincial council calls for elections postponement,” 12/9/08

Goetze, Katharina and Salman, Daud and Naji, Zaineb, “Could Awakening Fighters Rejoin Insurgency?” Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 10/31/08

Parker, Ned, “Baqubah a minefield of Iraqi sectarian tensions,” Los Angeles Times, 12/7/08
- “Iraq looks ahead to provincial, national elections,” Los Angeles Times, 11/5/08

Friday, December 26, 2008

Iraqi Accordance Front Breaks Apart

On Wednesday December 24, the Iraqi National Dialogue Council (INDC) withdrew from the Iraqi Accordance Front (IAF), the major Sunni coalition in parliament. The IAF was made up of three main parties, the Iraqi Islamic Party, the General Council for the People of Iraq, and the Iraqi National Dialogue Council. A group of independent Sunni members of parliament known as the Independents Bloc also left. The IAF originally held 44 seats in parliament. It now has 28 left. This comes just a month before the January 2009 provincial elections. The defection points towards the increasing divisions within Sunni politics that began in 2007.

The split within the IAF was due to the arguments between the Dialogue Council and the Islamic Party. The INDC said they were leaving the Front because the Islamic Party was trying to monopolize power. Back in April 2008 the INDC made a similar accusation and threatened to leave the bloc. At that time, the Accordance Front was negotiating with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to return to the cabinet, which they had been boycotting since August 2007. The INDC said that the Islamic Party was trying to take all six ministry positions the Front had left absent. The Dialogue Council was dividing itself then with some legislators leaving the party in May to form the Independents’ Bloc. When the Accordance Front finally did return to the government in July, the Islamic Party received four ministers, and the National Dialogue Council two. That apparently didn’t overcome the problems between the two parties, as the same differences re-emerged and led to the break up of the coalition in December. The Dialogue Council now appears to be allying itself with the opposition parties that consist of the Sadrists, the Fadhila Party, the Iraqi National List, the National Reform Movement, and several other independent parties not aligned with the major coalitions.

The split also comes as the speaker of parliament and INDC member Mahmoud al-Mashhadani resigned his position. The Dialogue Council claims that they and their new allies the opposition parties have the right to name Mashhadani’s replacement. The Accordance Front says that they will name the new speaker, pointing to more conflict between these former allies.

The break-up of the Accordance Front comes as Sunni politics in general have become more fractured and diverse. The Anbar Awakening and the creation of the Sons of Iraq across central and northern Iraq challenged the IAF’s claim that they stood for their community. In the 2005 provincial elections, all the major Sunni parties boycotted except for the Islamic Party, which took control of Anbar. The Accordance Front ran together in the parliamentary election later that year and received 44 seats. The new Sunni organizations claimed that the IAF gained their power illegitimately, and many are planning on challenging them in the 2009 provincial elections.

Maliki has also played the Sunni politicians against the tribes in a divide and conquer policy to keep the Sunnis weak. It apparently worked as the Accordance Front got none of their demands met when they returned to the cabinet after months of boycotting, and still don’t have any real say in decision-making. They also wanted to rejoin the government before the 2009 elections because they were afraid that the new Sunni groups like the Awakening would take their places in the cabinet if they didn’t, a fear stoked by Maliki’s maneuverings.

No one can say for sure who speaks for the Sunnis today. The Islamic Party won control of Anbar by default because the rest of the community was largely boycotting the vote. The 2005 parliamentary election was noted for its sectarian and ethnic divisions. Now there are more independents and nationalists planning on running in the upcoming voting such as the Sunni tribes and the Sons of Iraq. The Accordance Front division follows the de facto split of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance as parties that were once allied together in coalitions, are now seeing each other as rivals. The split between the National Dialogue Council and the Islamic Party can be seen within this context. Disagreements and resentments against the larger parties are coming to the fore now that sectarianism is lessoning across the country. The 2009 elections may provide clarity about these parties and their popularity, Sunni or otherwise, but they could also increase the divisions as the new and the old wrangle for power.


Ahmed, Farook, “The Iraqi Accord Front’s Return to Government,” Institute for the Study of War, 5/16/08

Alsumaria, “Iraqi governmental crisis to further snag,” 5/5/08

Aswat al-Iraq, “IAF has the right to Parliament’s speakership,” 12/24/08
- “IAF tabled single candidate list, not concerned with any other – MP,” 5/23/08
- “INDC puts forward candidates for parliament’s speakership,” 12/24/08
- “NDC approves its withdrawal from Sunni IAF bloc – MP,” 4/15/08
- “Soon: IAF meeting to nominate replacement for speaker,” 12/25/08
- “Urgent/INDC, Independents bloc withdraw from IAF,” 12/24/08

BBC News, “Guide to Iraqi political parties,” 1/20/06

Cordesman, Anthony, “Iraq’s Insurgency and Civil Violence,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 8/22/07

Hendawi, Hamza, “ANALYSIS: Al-Maliki weathering crisis,” Associated Press, 9/25/07

Katulis, Brian, Juul, Peter, and Moss, Ian, “Awakening to New Dangers in Iraq,” Center for American Progress, February 2008

Mohammed, Riyadh and Williams, Timothy, “Former Iraqi Parliament Speaker Spreads Blame,” New York Times, 12/25/08

Raghavan, Sudarsan, “Sunni Bloc Rejoins Iraqi Government, Amid Reconciliation Hopes,” Washington Post, 7/20/08

Reuters, “Iraq’s main Sunni Arab bloc splinters,” 12/24/08

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Anbar Awakening Splits

As Iraq’s provincial elections approached it was widely believed that the Anbar tribes would unseat the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) from power. The IIP was the only major Sunni party to take part in the provincial balloting back in 2005, and took all of the seats in Anbar as a result. When the province’s tribes began turning on Al Qaeda in Iraq later that year, and became known as the Anbar Awakening it was assumed they would eventually take over the province. Now the tribal groups have split, making the outcome of the January 2009 elections unpredictable.

The Anbar tribes were always divided between a variety of leaders and groups. Sheikh Abdl Sattar Abu Risha founded the Anbar Salvation Council in September 2006. He successfully organized 41 of the provinces tribes behind him to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq. In September 2007 the Islamists assassinated him. His death led to the first major split amongst the Anbaris. Sattar’s brother Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha formed the Awakening Conference of Iraq, while Sheikh Ali Hatem al-Suleiman of the al-Anbar Tribal Council and Sheikh Hameed Farhan al-Hayes formed the National Front for the Salvation of Iraq. By June 2008 the two groups had come together under the umbrella of the Al-Anbar Salvation Council expressly to run in the upcoming elections.

Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha on the right has decided to join with the Islamic Iraqi Party in the upcoming January 2009 elections

This alliance has now broken apart due to the maneuverings of the Islamic Party. Seeing their demise on the horizon, the IIP successfully played a divide and conquer strategy. They convinced Sheikh Abu Risha and his Awakening Conference to join them in the National Gathering of Independents. In October 2008, the Islamic Party also formed the Intellectuals and Tribes for Development that includes the Gathering of Anbar’s Tribal Leaders and Intellectuals, Iraq’s People’s Conference, and the Independent Tribal National Gathering. Abu Risha’s defection led 40 tribal leaders to walk out of his group and join al-Suleiman and al-Hayes. They in turn formed a rival coalition, the Iraq’s Tribes List, which is made up of Risha’s original group the Anbar Salvation Council, the Ambition Party, and Hayes’ and Suleiman’s National Front for the Salvation of Iraq. Sheikh Suleiman is also trying to reach out to Baghdad for support. He formed a Tribal Support Council aligned with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The divisions amongst the tribes could complicate the voting in January. A member of Iraq’s Election Commission said that while a large number of people registered to vote, he feared a low turnout. He told the Berlin and Amman based on-line weekly Niqash that many people don’t trust the Islamic Party because of their poor rule of Anbar, but also don’t believe in the tribes because they are divided, and always bicker with each other. He continued that voters couldn’t tell one tribal group from another, and this confusion will lead them to select none of them as a result.

Because of these divisions, there might not be a clear winner come January in Anbar. The Tribes List and the Islamic Party coalition will probably split the vote. That will likely mean a power sharing deal between two bitter rivals. Neither side trusts nor respects the other, so this will be a real test. The Islamic Party has not done a god job running the province. In 2007 it only spent 3.7% of its budget. By October 2008 they had improved to 42%. There is also widespread poverty with six of the province’s seven districts having 25-50% of the population living in the poorest of six wealth groups according to the United Nations’ World Food Program, and the seventh with 50-75% in poverty. With divided rule, and budget cuts expected, it’s unlikely that the province will do any better in the immediate future.

For more on Anbar see:

Iraqi Weekly Interviews Sheikh Ali Hatem

Finding A Historical Precedent For The Sons Of Iraq, But Not A Solution

A More Complicated Picture of Iraq’s Tribes

Anbar Under Iraqi Control, But Political Disputes Continue

Anbar Dispute Between Sunnnis Growing

The Demise, But Not Death of Al Qaeda In Iraq


Ali, Fadhil, “Sunni Rivalries in al-Anbar Province Threaten Iraq’s Security,” Terrorism Focus, Jamestown Foundation, 3/11/08

Fayad, Ma’ad, “Al-Anbar Salvation Council to Run in Parliamentary Elections,” Asharq Al-Awsat, 9/21/08

Hamid, Nirmeen, “anbar’s Islamic party and tribes vie for power,” Niqash, 12/12/08
- “Political Fight Threatens Anbar Peace,” Niqash, 11/20/08

Lynch, Marc, “Iraqi Sunnis after the Awakening,” Abu Aardvark Blog, 6/20/08

Parker, Ned, “Iraq’s Nouri Maliki may gain power with U.S. security agreement,” Los Angeles Times, 11/24/08

Partlow, Joshua, Tyson, Ann Scott and Wright, Robin, “Bomb Kills a Key Sunni Ally of U.S.,” Washington Post, 9/14/07

Pitman, Todd, “Sunni Sheiks Join Fight Vs. Insurgency,” Associated Press, 3/25/07

Raghavan, Sudarsan, “A New Breed Grabs Reins in Anbar,” Washington Post, 10/21/08

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly report to the United States Congress,” 10/30/08

World Food Programme, “Comprehensive Food Security And Vulnerability Analysis In Iraq,” November 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Importance Of The Upcoming Provincial Elections

The December 2008 issue of the Arab Reform Bulletin had an article by Michael Knights on the importance of the upcoming Iraqi provincial elections. Knights is a Middle East specialist from England that works for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Knights’ main argument was that while the elections will not be perfect, they are an important sign of progress for Iraq’s political system. They will give a sense of how popular Iraq’s parties are, show that the government is committed to democracy, but Knights’ point may be undermined by the fact that actual governance might not improve.

Iraq’s elections are due at the end of January 2009. They will occur in fourteen of the country’s eighteen provinces. The Kurdish Regional Government will decide when the three Kurdish provinces of Dohuk, Irbil, and Sulaymaniyah will hold their vote. Tamim, home of the disputed city of Kirkuk, will have its polling delayed as well until a committee can come up with a power sharing agreement, and a separate election law is drafted for it. The committee is supposed to finish their work by March 31, 2009. Even with these exceptions around 75% of the Iraqi public will still be voting.

The election law this time is more open than 2005, but still has limits. The new voting system is an open list, proportional one. In 2005 Iraq had a closed list vote. People picked from coalitions of parties, and then those parties decided what politicians would fill the provincial council seats. Many of these people were unqualified as the parties relied upon cronies, family ties, and patronage to dole out the seats. The new system will allow Iraqis to pick from individuals, parties or coalitions. The votes will be tallied to see how much each individual or party gets across the entire province, and then positions on the council will be given by the percentage each received. The top vote getters for each list will receive the actual seats, meaning the parties will not get to pick them as happened in 2005. This method favors the large parties that are better organized, funded, and already control the councils because they can operate across the entire province, which is necessary to win seats. There are also no campaign financing rules, which will allow rich individuals and foreign countries to also play a role in influencing the outcome. In November for example, an Iranian agent was arrested in Wasit hiding in a fuel truck carrying forged Iraqi IDs. An Iraqi source believed the Iranian was planning to use them in the elections to fake votes. The election law also sets aside a quota for women candidates with the top vote getting women getting every 3rd seat on the councils. The councils in turn pick the governors of each province and the provincial police chiefs. They also get to control the provincial budgets and local reconstruction projects.

The January elections will also be different from the 2005 one because of who’s running and how. In the 2005 provincial elections, the major Shiite parties the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) and the Dawa ran together as part of the United Iraqi Alliance. This time they will be running against each other. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has already made his move to improve his situation vis-a-vis the much larger SIIC that already controls most of the southern provinces by creating Tribal Support Councils aimed at gathering votes from sheikhs and their followers in rural areas. The Sunnis and Sadrists also largely boycotted the first 2005 elections. On the Sunni side, only the Iraqi Islamic Party ran, which now controls Anbar, while the Sadrists only really competed in Maysan, which they have sway over. The tribal Awakening forces in Anbar are hoping to unseat the Islamic Party, while the larger Iraqi Accordance Front coalition is looking to gain seats in central and northern Iraq. The Sadrists on the other hand, are handicapped by the series of government crackdowns that began in March 2008. Sadr said his followers would run with smaller parties. As reported earlier, this probably means they will not do well. Dozens of independents and individuals are going to run as well, even though their chances of victory are slim due to the voting system. The head of Iraq’s Election Commission announced that there were 14,800 individuals, 36 coalitions, and 366 political parties running for office this time.

In the end, Knights believes that the elections will only shuffle the seats between the current ruling parties. He predicts that the Shiite south will be evenly divided between the Dawa and SIIC after the election, with independents being the swing votes as to who is named governors. The Anbar tribes will split the vote with the Islamic Party, and the Accordance Front could take Salahaddin, which is currently ruled by the Kurds. The Sunnis might also gain seats in Diyala and Baghdad, while the Kurds could retain control of Ninewa, which has the disputed city of Mosul. Knights warns that violence and fraud might also influence the vote, both real and imagined. There have already been several reports of an uptake in assassinations and the use of sticky bombs to kill officials that could be linked to the elections.

When the election is over, the new councils may face opportunities and difficulties as well. The new governors could have more power as the provincial powers act gives them wide ranging authority. They could also be severely limited by two factors as well. First, the change in ruling parties could also hamper the local government as bureaucrats are likely to be replaced with a brand new set of family members and cronies that have little to no experience running anything. Second, Baghdad is planning on slashing the provincial budgets in half because of the drop in oil prices. Much of Iraq lives in poverty, and many citizens are cynical about the political system that has failed to improve their lot even as violence has declined in the last year. Because of these experiences and financial constraints, the new provincial governments may be no better than their predecessors in delivering on any of their election promises.

Despite all of these faults, Knights still believes that the elections are important. Iraq is still formulating its political system after years of dictatorial rule. The same parties may end up in power, just with different positions vis-à-vis each other, and they may not be able to improve the provinces’ lot much, but Knights argues the vote will be significant symbolically. He thinks that Baghdad needs to instill in the public the fact that there will be regular elections, and the people will have a say in who rules the country. Of course, if it leads to the same type of incompetent and corrupt governance couldn’t that corrode the populace’s belief in democracy just as much? There are plenty of developing countries that have regular votes, but little changes. Ultimately, simply carrying out balloting is not enough to transform a nation. Elections need to be more than symbolic victories. They need to lead to real substantive changes as well.

For more on the upcoming provincial elections see:

Controversy Could Be Growing Over Ban On Using Religious Symbols During Provincial Elections

Iraqi Al-Amal Association and Baghdad University’s Public Opinion Poll On Poverty In Iraq

Maliki’s Tribal Support Councils Appear To Be Paying Off

Iraq Center for Research & Strategic Studies’ Survey Of Iraqis

Maliki Responds To His Critics On Tribal Support Councils

Disputes Over Tribal Support Councils

Iraq’s Displaced Not Excitied About Election

Iraq’s New Voting System

Election Law Passed, Now To Get People To Vote


Aswat al-Iraq, “Iranian with forged Iraqi IDs arrested in Wassit,” 11/22/08
- “Next year elections made by Iraqis – IHEC,” 12/4/08
- “No decrease in salaries because of oil prices – planning minister,” 12/19/08

Fadel, Leila, “Assassinations replacing car bombs in Iraq,” McClatchy Newspapers, 10/9/08

Goode, Erica, “Iraq Passes Provincial Elections Law,” New York Times, 9/25/08

Institute for the Study of War, “Fact Sheet on Iraq’s Major Shi’a Political Parties and Militia Groups,” April 2008

Knights, Michael, “Significance of the Provincial Elections,” Arab Reform Bulletin, December, 2008

Middle East Reference.org, “Governorate elections held in Iraq on 31 January 2005”

Parker, Sam, “not so open,” Abu Muqawama Blog, 9/25/08

Monday, December 22, 2008

Iraq Cuts Budget

Iraq’s High Economic Committee met on December 16 and cut Iraq’s 2009 budget in the face of sinking oil prices. The committee consists of the ministers of Finance, Oil, Planning, Electricity, Industry, and Trade, along with advisors to Maliki, and experts from the ministries. The new budget is for $58 billion. That is $12 billion less than the 2008 budget. The government is planning on cutting spending for the provinces, reconstruction, ministries, and perhaps the food ration system as a result. More reductions could happen in the future.

Iraq’s new budget cuts billions of dollars from the original estimates. When Iraq’s 2009 budget was first announced it was $78.8 billion, and based upon an $80 a barrel oil price. Petroleum accounted for 94% of the government’s expected 2009 revenue according to the Finance Ministry. At the time this was a conservative estimate as oil prices peaked at $147 a barrel in July, but they quickly plummeted with the growing economic crisis. In mid-December crude prices stand at around $45. In November, Iraq’s cabinet made their first revision to the budget, reducing it to $67 billion, based upon a $62 a barrel price. The newest budget cuts another $9 billion, and is based upon $50 a barrel. The budget may be adjusted again before it is sent to parliament for final approve if oil continues to drop in value.

In order to achieve these cuts Iraq will face a series of austerity measures. First, the government promised pay increases for all government workers and the security forces. This is now off. Instead, the ministries will be asked to reduce their operational budgets, the only money they have proven to be able to spend, while the provinces’ spending will be trimmed by about 50%. The country’s $5 billion food ration system may also be reduced. There are also plans to slow the pace of reconstruction projects. Even after these moves, Iraq is still likely to run a deficit. It may even be forced to ask for international aid to make up for the difference.

These budget cuts are only the most recent problems to face Iraq’s economy. There is no real tax system and tariffs are low to non-existent. To add to the difficulties, an oil expert estimated that exports could drop 13% in 2009 because of deteriorating infrastructure. That’s why it’s likely that Iraq’s budget will face deficits and more cuts in the coming years until oil prices stabilize, and the recession ends. Iraq’s public will feel the effects as the government still dominates the economy. Reconstruction might come to a stand still as Iraq is now almost completely responsible for it. Iraq will probably take years to recover, when it still hasn’t even gotten over the decade of sanctions, the destruction from the U.S. invasion, and the mismanagement of the Americans.


Abedzair, Kareem, “Oil price drop forces government to tighten belt,” Azzaman, 12/14/08

Associated Press, “Iraq plans to cut 2009 budget by $13 billion,” 10/31/08

Aswat al-Iraq, “No decrease in salaries because of oil prices – planning minister” 12/19/08

Karouny, Mariam, “Iraq reviews 2009 budget due to falling oil price,” Reuters, 10/23/08

Mawloodi, Aiyob, “Iraq may ask for foreign economic assistance,” Kurdish Globe, 12/19/08

Michaels, Jim, “Declining oil prices threaten Iraqi stability,” USA Today, 12/16/08

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 10/30/08

Swartz, Spencer, “Iraqi Oil Exports Could Fall Amid Maintenance Problems,” Wall Street Journal, 12/2/08

United States Government Accountability Office, “Iraqi Revenues, Expenditures, and Surplus,” August 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sadr’s Predicament

Sadr’s call for weekly protests against the Status of Forces Agreement failed in both rallying more support and in blocking the deal from passing

Recently the U.S. and Iraq signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which sets the future relations between the two countries. The followers of Moqtada al-Sadr were some of the fiercest opponents of the pact. Sadr called for weekly demonstrations against it, while his parliamentarians tried to block it in the legislature. Its passage was a major setback for Sadr who has been struggling to re-define his movement.

After the government’s crackdown on the Mahdi Army in early 2008, Sadr began to reorganize. In June he said he was disbanding his militia, and creating a new group, the Mumahidun, Those Who Are Paving The Way. This new organization was to focus upon social programs and religious training. At the same time, Sadr has been in Qom, Iran undergoing religious training. Many think he is aiming to become an ayatollah, which would give him greater standing amongst Shiites, and would allow him to issue fatwas. It was also a way for him to escape being targeted by Iraqi and American forces for his militia. Some believe he is trying to join the mainstream, and shed his image as a militia leader.

Sadr’s opposition to the SOFA was part of this new image making. By standing against the agreement, he hoped to rekindle his nationalist stance, and regain followers. Beginning in May 2008, he called for weekly demonstrations against the SOFA. The Sadr bloc in parliament said they were against any agreement with the U.S., which they saw as an occupier. They were one of the few groups that completely rejected the deal. The problem was that they didn’t propose any alternatives they just called for an immediate withdrawal of American forces. That meant his parliamentarians could not make bargains, and got nothing from their stance when the SOFA was passed. The agreement was also a victory for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who used it to undermine Sadr. Maliki claimed that he was the one that got the U.S. to agree to pull out of Iraq, something Sadr has always said he stood for.

Up next for the Sadrists are the provincial elections in January 2009. Sadr said that he would not have his followers run under his name. Instead they will join independents and smaller political parties. Again, this was a way to avoid persecution by the government who threatened to ban any party with a militia. Since the new election law favors the larger, well-organized parties, the Sadrists will probably not do well in the upcoming vote following this strategy.

These all point to the huge gamble that Sadr is taking. He is trying to transform his group into a more institutionalized social and political one. The Mahdi has always been an ad hoc street movement. Local commanders raised their own money, obtained weapons, and carried out their own operations. Protection rackets and other illegal activities were common ways for them to raise funds. Sadr only has a nominal hold over a lot of them, and is more of a symbolic leader. Many of his followers reject the political system and the major parties, especially the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, which is a long time rival, and the Dawa Party because of Maliki’s moves against them. Some were upset with his decision to run in the 2005 parliamentary elections and join Maliki’s government. As a result, the Mahdi Army has increasingly fractured over the last several years. More and more have found outside support from Iran in the myriad local militias known as Special Groups.

As a sign of these growing divisions, there have been several deaths of moderate Sadrists. As reported before, Riadh al-Nouri was killed in April 2008, followed by parliamentarian Saleh al-Auqaeili in October. Factions of the Mahdi Army are suspected of carrying out the assassinations.

Sadr might also be on the outs with Iran. After the U.S. invasion Tehran began moving towards Sadr because of his anti-American stance. The Iranians came to see him as a loose canon however as he had his own agenda, and would escalate situations and start violence with no way to end them. Iran started arming the groups that broke away from his movement because they were easier to control by regulating the amount of weapons shipped to them. There were also reports that Sadr might have been under a form of house arrest in 2008. Iran also came to support the SOFA after Maliki was able to get the U.S. to agree to a 2011 withdrawal date, directly contradicting Sadr’s stance on the deal.

Sadr appears in a very weakened position now. In 2007 he withdrew his ministers from Maliki’s cabinet, giving him no say in the federal government. His bloc in parliament has achieved very few things, as the opposition overall is very fragmented. Sadrists control Maysan province, which is one of the poorest in the country. He lacks a national party to run in the upcoming elections, and might have lost standing with Iran. More importantly, Sadr’s power has always come from his standing on the street, and his ability to threaten violence. He is now trying to move away from armed conflict, while the Special Groups have grown, tainting his name in the process. Many of his remaining followers also seem uncertain of what direction the movement is going in. Adding to that is the fact that Sadr himself has not been seen in public for over a year, and is currently living outside the country in Qom, Iran, which means he does not have a role in the day to day operation of his movement. His recent moves to reconfigure his group are as much an attempt to escape more arrests by the government, as to gain legitimacy. The problem as always has been that the more Sadr moves towards the mainstream, the less support he has amongst his traditional followers.

For more on the Sadrists see:

Combating Terrorism Center’s Report On Iran’s Role In Iraq

Combating Terrorism Center Report On Iranian Training of Shiite Militants

SOFA Passes

Government Moves Against Squatters In Hurriyah, Baghdad

Iraq Center for Research & Strategic Studies’ Survey Of Iraqis

Shiite Rivalries Increasing As Provincial Elections Near

How The Failure To Deal With Iraq’s Militias Caused The Breakdown Of The Country

Another Sadrist Assassinated

Dispute Over Tribal Support Councils

Sadrist Cleric Assassinated In Basra

Maliki Hits The Campaign Trail

Sadr Struggles To Remain Relevant

Sadr’s Leadership Or Lack Thereof

Iraq Gains Control of Diwaniyah Province

Hezbollah’s Role In Iraq

Desperation Move By The Sadrists? Update II

Desperation Move By The Sadrists? Update I

Vali Nasr: Iranian Policy In Iraq At A Crossroad

Operation Promise Of Peace In Maysan Province


Abbas, Mohammed, “Iraq’s Mehdi Army at crossroads as U.S. scales down,” Reuters, 9/22/08

Aswat al-Iraq, “Mahdi Army weaker in Sadr City-U.S. commander,” 11/17/08

Bennett, Brian, “Underestimating al-Sadr – Again,” Time, 2/12/08

Chon, Gina, “Radical Iraq Cleric in Retreat,” Wall Street Journal, 8/5/08

Cordesman, Anthony, and Ramos, Jose, “Sadr and the Mahdi Army: Evoluation, Capabilities, and a New Direction,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 8/4/08

Felter, Joseph and Fishman, Brian, “Iranian Strategy in Iraq, Politics and ‘Other Means,’” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, 10/13/08

Graff, Peter, “Influence wanes for followers of Iraq’s Sadr,” Reuters, 11/24/08

Oppel, Richard and Farrell, Stephen, “Growing Opposition to Iraq Security Pact,” New York Times, 5/31/08

Parker, Ned, “In Iraq, Muqtada Sadr’s followers struggle for relevance,” Los Angeles Times, 11/10/08

Parker, Sam, “not so open,” Abu Muqawama Blog, 9/25/08

Raghavan, Sudarsan, “Sadr Movement Seeks Is Way As Others Gain Power in Iraq,” Washington Post, 12/5/08

Rahimi, Babak, “The Mumahidun: Muqtada Al-Sadr’s New Militia,” Terrorism Monitor, Jamestown Foundation, 9/4/08

Robertson, Campbell and Al-Salhy, Suadad, “Cleric Calls for Resistance to U.S. Presence in Iraq,” New York Times, 11/15/08

Sheridan, Mary Beth, “Sadr Followers Rally Against U.S. Accord,” Washington Post, 11/22/08

Susman, Tina, “U.S.-Iraqi accord shows Muqtada Sadr’s diminished clout,” Los Angeles Times, 12/2/08

World Food Programme, “Comprehensive Food Security And Vulnerability Analysis In Iraq,” November 2008

Yates, Dean, “ANALYSIS – Iraq’s Sadr avoiding fight with government,” Reuters, 6/16/08

Zahra, Hassan Abdul, “Iraq’s Sadr plans new armed group to fight US forces,” Agence France Presse, 6/13/08

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Drought Leads To Food And Grain Imports

As reported before, Iraq is facing one of the worst droughts in decades. Rainfall in 2007 was down 40% according to Baghdad. Central and northern Iraq have been hit the hardest in places like Diyala, Ninewa, Dohuk, and Irbil. The Ministry of Agriculture noted that this was exacerbating the shrinking amount of arable land in the country, which is dropping 5% per year. Some of Iraq’s main crops have been devastated by this turn of events. A U.S. Department of Agriculture report called the situation a “disaster.” To deal with the problem, the government has announced plans to import thousands of tons of food and grain.

Baghdad declared that it would buy foreign foodstuffs to make up for the drop in domestic agriculture. That would have to account for wheat production that is down 27%, and a 60% reduction in barley. In the north, wheat farming has fallen 80-98%. To make up the difference, the government plans on spending $132 million on food imports. It will be buying 2.8 million tons of wheat for example, a 40% increase from last year.

Iraqi authorities have claimed they are providing aid to beleaguered farmers as well. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki promised $200 million to help with the drought. The Agriculture Ministry has been offering loans and fertilizer. A farming consultant that works for the U.S. however, claimed that this policy was a joke. He said that farmers usually can’t qualify for the loans, and needed to bribe officials if they really wanted one. He went on to say that the government was useless in this situation. The lack of electricity and fuel, which are necessary for irrigation pumps, and deteriorating infrastructure has also hampered Baghdad’s response.

To add to the difficulties, the severity of the drought is leading to some displacement. Agriculture is one of the largest employers in the country, and there are reports that farmers, especially, in the north, have begun leaving their land for towns and cities looking for employment. As an example, in July, when Iraqi forces launched an offensive in Diyala, U.S. and Iraqi forces came across the Fatamia village, which only had 3-4 families out of 30-40 still there. The military claimed the villagers had fled insurgents, but a resident said they had left because of the drought.

Because of these myriad problems, it’s not known when Iraq will recover from this drought. Farms have been devastated, the country is importing food, people are leaving rural areas, and the government as usual is not competent enough to really help. This comes on top of the financial problems Baghdad is running into with the huge drop in oil prices. The budget will probably run a deficit soon, which could imperial the import plan. The one bright spot is that in October there was rain. Whether this was a significant amount is not known. Until then Iraq will still be in this predicament.

For more on Iraq’s drought see:

United Nations Humanitarian Report On Iraq

More On Iraq’s Drought

Drought Update II

Drought Update

Iraq’s Drought


Haynes, Deborah, “Iraqis hunt for insurgents in Diyala unearths only ghost towns and drought,” Times of London, 7/29/08

Iraq Directory, “Iraq is Submitting a Tender to Buy 50 Thousand Tons of Wheat,” 11/25/08

Latif, Nizar, “Iraq in midst of ‘agricultural disaster,’” The National, 12/11/08

Rasheed, Ahmed and Ryan, Missy, “Iraq’s farm sector crumbling as drought bites,” Reuters, 10/24/08

Shatab, Ali, “Iraq to increase grain imports due to drop in local produce,” Azzaman, 5/16/08

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Iraq Humanitarian Update,” October 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kenneth Pollack: Too Soon To Wave Victory Flag

Kenneth Pollack is an Iraq analyst and senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. At the beginning of December 2008 he was interviewed by Bernard Gwertzman from the Council on Foreign Relations. Pollack voiced his concerns over the future of Iraq, and U.S. policy. With a financial crisis hitting the United States and violence down in Iraq, he was afraid that the American government and public would forget about Iraq, and walk away when there was still much work to be done.

Pollack started his conversation with Gwertzman by expressing his concerns about America’s wherewithal in Iraq. Pollack said he was worried that the American public and its leaders thought the U.S. had achieved victory in Iraq. He believes that the country is still not stable, and that there are still major problems to be overcome. Some of these have the potential to bring Iraq back to the brink. This was happening at a time when the U.S. was reducing its role in the country, and has agreed to a 2011 deadline for combat troops to be out of the country under the Status of Forces Agreement. America has also been hit by a growing recession that will distract the public’s attention away from foreign affairs to domestic ones. It will also mean there are less resources available for Iraq. All together, Pollack was worried that the result would be America forgetting about what they started in the country.

In Iraq, the major problem that Pollack focused upon was the development of its political system. He warned that its government, parties, and institutions are still immature, and that there is an on-going struggle for power within the ruling coalition. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for example, is centralizing authority in his office. Pollack doesn’t believe he has the ability to become a dictator, but his moves are worrying his partners, the Kurds and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. This has the potential to topple the government if one decides to have a no confidence vote in Maliki.

Another potential threat to stability is the growing strength of the Iraqi security forces. The Army is growing in capabilities and self-assuredness. With weak politicians, they could launch a military coup. Pollack first mentioned this possibility after a trip to Iraq back in May 2008. This may or may not have just happened with the arrests of several officers in the Interior Ministry recently.

The third problem Pollack mentioned is the continued division and marginalization of the country’s Sunnis. The Sunnis as a group are still not unified. The Sunni Accordance Front is the largest Sunni coalition, but they are widely unpopular, and one of its members, the Iraqi Islamic Party of Vice President Tariq Hashemi will probably lose power in Anbar to the Awakening movement. Many tribes have also joined the Sons of Iraq program and hope to capitalize on that to run in the upcoming provincial elections. The problem is that they are not political parties or politicians who are organized to run campaigns, garner votes, or work the system. That means many may not be successful in the polling. More importantly, the state of disarray amongst them means that the Shiites and Kurds continue to exclude them from power.

Pollack finished his interview by urging America to stay focused and working on Iraq. He said that the U.S. needed to keep pressure on the Iraqi government, so that it makes the necessary compromises for national reconciliation. This is a paradox however, because the U.S.’s influence is declining, when it needs it to ensure a stable Iraq. Pollack has expressed similar opinions before in journal pieces, and is part of a larger group of Iraq analysts that believe America needs to stay in Iraq for the long haul until the country has overcome most of its problems.

Pollack is right, Iraq still has many issues that need to be resolved, but Americans probably won’t fix them. One major issue with Pollack’s argument is that the ruling parties may not want the same thing as Pollack and other Americans. For example, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said on several occasions that there has already been reconciliation in Iraq. The Accordance Front is part of the government, the parliament has passed the Amnesty Act and the Accountability and Justice Law to replace the old Debaathification process, as well as agreed to pay for and integrate the Sons of Iraq. Maliki therefore doesn’t see any reason to make any more compromises with the Sunnis. Not only that, but with the Sunnis divided, and their political parties weak, that gives more opportunities for the Shiites to gain power in central and northern Iraq. Lastly, why would Maliki give up centralizing authority around him? What kind of pressure could the Americans bring to bear, that would stop him? While he doesn’t have the ability to become a dictator, he could very well become more autocratic. His moves have upset his coalition so much, that there are already rumors that they may force him out of office. That leads to the last criticism. Pollack is calling for an open-ended commitment to Iraq, a country that may never turn out how he or other Americans want. If recent events point to anything, it’s that Iraqis will determine their own future, not the U.S.


Aswat al-Iraq, “National reconciliation behind security improvement – PM,” 12/4/08

Biddle, Stephen, Nasr, Vali, Nash, William, “Political and Security Developments in Iraq and the Region,” Council on Foreign Relations, 6/12/08

Biddle, Stephen, O’Hanlon, Michael, and Pollack, Kenneth, “How to Leave a Stable Iraq, Building on Progress in Iraq,” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2008

Gwertzman, Bernard, “Despite Security Improvements, Iraq Remains ‘Very Troubled Country,’” Council on Foreign Relations, 12/10/08

Robertson, Campbell and Maher, Tareq, “An Inquiry in Baghdad Is Clouded by Politics,” New York Times, 12/18/08

Salman, Raheem and Parker, Ned, “Iraq detains police officials, including Interior Ministry generals,” Los Angeles Times, 12/18/08

Thursday, December 18, 2008

International Organization for Migration’s Year End Report On Displaced Iraqis In Anbar, Baghdad & Diyala Provinces

In early December 2008, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released its end of the year reports on Iraq’s displaced. The first was on Anbar, Baghdad and Diyala, the three provinces that have seen the largest number of refugees and returns in the country. The IOM’s report contained extensive polling data on the needs of this population, top among them being food and shelter. The IOM report also documented the flow of Iraqis returning to their homes. While still at a small percentage, more are coming back than before. The IOM also found that few displaced receive basic services or any type of assistance, governmental or other. Many live in squalid conditions, and their overall situation is getting no better.

State Of The Displaced In Iraq

There were displaced Iraqis before the U.S. invasion. Saddam Hussein carried out policies against Shiites and Kurds that forced many from their homes. The Iran-Iraq and Gulf wars also led to Iraqi refugees. After the 2003 U.S. invasion, Coalition and Iraqi military operations led to around 200,000 Iraqis being displaced. The real catastrophe started after the Samarra shrine was bombed in February 2006, which started the sectarian war between the Shiites and Sunnis. After that attack approximately 1.6 million fled.

Shiites are the majority in the country, and are a majority of the displaced. Most were forced out because of direct threats to their lives. Almost two-thirds of them want to go back to their homes. Until then, most are renting a place, while others have turned to squatting. Many are afraid of evictions.

Because of their status, access to jobs, services, food, electricity, fuel, and schools are difficult. In a survey conducted by the IOM, 11% said they had no access to health care, 65.2% had no one in their family working, 36.7% received no aid from any group or government agency, 48% said they didn’t receive a steady supply of rations from the government, and 42% only had access to 3 hour or less of electricity per day.

These troubling situations along with the improved security situation have led a small, but growing number of Iraqis to try to return to their homes. As of November 2008, the IOM had found that 38,404 families, approximately 230,424 people had returned. 93% of those were internally displaced, and only 7% international refugees. The vast majority went back to Baghdad, which was the source for most of the country’s displaced.

Statistics On Displaced In Iraq

Displaced By Sect:
57.0% Shiite Arab
30.8% Sunni Arab
3.7% Sunni Kurd
1.9% Christian Chaldean
1.2% Shiite Turkomen
1.0% Sunni Turkomen
0.6% Shiite Kurd

Reasons For Displacement:
49.7% Direct Threats On Life
44.7% General Violence
35.2% Left Out Of Fear
29.6% Forced Out
20.8% Armed Conflict

Reasons For Being Targeted:
84.8% Sect
10.9% Don’t Think Targeted
5.1% Political Opinion
4.8% Ethnic Group
1.3% Social Group

61.3% Want To Return To Their Original Home
Approx 15% Want To Resettle In Third Location
20% Want To Integrate Into Current Location

Security Questions:
25.9% Death Or Injury In Family
17.6% Checkpoints Near Home
8.8% Need Permission To Move
6.6% Missing Family Member
4.0% Other Restrictions On Movement

Type Of Housing:
63.7% Rent
14.8% Live With Relatives Or Friends
10.0% Other
6.0% Collective Settlement
4.2% Public Housing
0.4% Former Military Camp

Access To Food Rations:
20.1% Not At All
46.2% Sometimes
33.6% Always

Reasons For Non-Access To Food Rations:
32.5% Insecure Shipping Route
15.0% Delay Transferring To New Location
6.5% Lack Transportation To Food Supplies
2.5% Other
2.5% No Food To Distribute
1.9% No Documents Or Ration Cards
1.3% Don’t Know

Food Aid Sources:
56.2% None
19.8% Religious Group
19.4% Humanitarian Group
10.6% Other
9.4% Other Federal Government Agency
6.3% Regional Government Agency

Water Sources:
88.8% Municipal Water
26.1% Water Tanks/Trucks
12.5% Rivers and Lakes
12.1% Open/Broken Pipe
11.3% Wells
3.4% Other

Electricity Supply:
4.8% None
31.2% 1-3 Hours Per Day
63.2% Four Or More Hours Per Day

Fuel Access:
61.0% Propane
43.8% Benzene
32.7% No Access
21.3% Kerosene
13.5% Diesel
2.6% Other

Visited By Health Worker In Past 30 Days?
56.2% Yes
41.3% No

34.8% At Least One Family Member Working
65.2% No One Working

Status Of Property Left Behind:
27.67% Occupied By Others
17.93% Destroyed
16.46% Accessible
40.95% Don’t Know
1.11% Used By Military
0.44% Controlled By Government

Sources Of Assistance:

36.7% None
26.5% Relatives
26.5% Host Community
26.3% Ministry of Displacement and Migration
24.1% Religious Group
23.4% Iraqi Red Crescent
20.6% Humanitarian Group
4.2% Other Government Agency
1.8% Other

Numbers Of Returnees:
38,404 Families
Approximately 230,424 people
93% Internally Displaced
7% International Refugees

State Of The Displaced In Anbar, Baghdad and Diyala

The majority of those displaced in Anbar, Baghdad and Diyala provinces fled because of the sectarian war of 2006. Because of the fighting, there are a high number of female-headed households, which causes problems with jobs, poverty, and acquiring food and housing. These three provinces are also seeing evictions over squatting or not paying rent. Anbar was the highest at 8%, followed by Diyala at 5%. Access to services and schooling were also difficult. In the three provinces for example, only 17% of families interviewed had female children going to school compared to the national average of 22.5%, and only 29.5% had their male kids attending compared to the national average of 32%.

The Displaced In Anbar

Anbar is Iraq’s largest province, but it lacks resources. On September 1, 2008 it was turned over to Iraqi control. That was a positive step, but there are still attacks in the province. IEDs and suicide bombings continue with the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah still being the most violent. There are also extensive checkpoints throughout the province.

The governorate is also almost entirely Sunni, which has led many of that sect to flee there from other parts of the country. 77% of the displaced there came from Baghdad. There were also a large number of internally displaced Anbaris, because of the military operations there in 2004 and 2005 in places like Ramadi and Fallujah. More than 12,000 left for Baghdad. In the last year many of these have gone back to their homes. In the northern section of the province there are also about 600 Kurdish families that are displaced, but intend to stay in Anbar.

Anbar has been generally open to the displaced. It has no restrictions on their movement. In order to receive food rations they need to register and have their IDs. Many that went there came from the same tribes and families, and were given aid by locals. Now that is beginning to change as prices, especially rents, are going up.

Access to housing and services varies across the province for the displaced. They are three times as likely to live in public housing as the national average. Water supply differs from district to district. Tamem, Jughyfi, Askari, Thubbat, and Shurate sub-districts don’t have enough water, while Rawa, Rutba, Saqlawiya, and Khalidiya sub-districts have no sewage system. The Rutba desert area is also suffering from drought, which has forced some displaced to leave there for Fallujah. Overall, Anbar is known for having the worst water network in the country. Many pipes are damaged or breaking down. The water system usually runs on electricity, which is also spotty in the province. Fallujah and Ramadi average 2-3 hours of power a day, Heet and Karma 3-4 hours per day, and Rutba, Qaim and Hadith 5-6 hours per day. The improved security in Anbar has allowed the health sector to be rebuilt, but the centers usually lack supplies and staff. 50.5% of the displaced there say they have no access to medications. The schools in the province also need to be fixed, with some made out of mud. There is also extensive unemployment throughout the governorate.

After Baghdad, Anbar has seen the most returns. The IOM counted 3,101 families, or approximately 18,606 people have come back. Many of those said they did so because they felt pressured to leave by the provinces they were in or because they were running out of money.

Statistics On Displaced In Anbar

Population: 1,485,985
Displaced Before Feb. 06: 1,025 families, approximately 6,150 people
Displaced After Feb. 06: 9,179 families, approximately 55,716 people
Number Of Displaced Surveyed By IOM: 9,431 families, approximately 56,586 people
Number Of Returns: 3,101 families, approximately 18,606 people
Sect Of Displaced: 0.9% Shiite Arab, 98.6% Sunni Arab
Origin Of Displaced: 77.64% Baghdad, 14.59% Anbar, 6.18% Basra, 0.71% Ninewa,
0.66% Diyala, 0.12% Babil, 0.06% Salahaddin, 0.03% Wasit, 0.01% Dhi Qar

Reasons For Displacement:
46.6% General Violence
40.5% Direct Threat On Life
28.1% Forced Out
14.2% Armed Conflict
8.5% Left Out Of Fear

Reasons For Being Targeted:
80.1% Sect
19.7% Don’t Think Targeted
5.9% Ethnic Group
0.6% Political Opinion
0.2% Social Group

Displacement Rate

February 2006 began increasing to 500 a month
July 2006 dropped
Rose to peak at October 2006 at 1,500 that month
Declined to nearly 0 since then

83.4% Return To Original Home
15% Resettle In Current Location

3,101 families, approximately 18,606 people to 99 locations

Internally Displaced vs. Refugees Amongst Returns:

2,123 displaced families, 888 refugee families

Security Situation:
61.1% Checkpoints Near Home
21.1% Other Restrictions
17.0% Death Or Injury In Family
7.3% Need Permission To Move
0.8% Missing Family Member

Type Of Housing:

61.5% Rent
18.8% Live With Relatives Or Friends
11.8% Public Housing
7.6% Collective Settlement
3.0% Other
0.9% Former Military Camp

Access To Food Rations:

61.7% Sometimes
22.5% Always
15.6% Not At All

Reasons For Non-Access To Food Rations:

20.1% Delay Transferring To new Location
14.5% Insecure Shipping Route
8.1% Lack Transportation For Food
5.4% Other
1.4% Families Lack Documentation Or Ration Cards
0.5% Don’t Know
0.1% No Food To Distribute

Food Aid Sources:

53.6% Humanitarian Group
45.3% Religious Group
27.6% None
8.9% Other
8.6% Other Federal Government Agency
2.6% regional Government Agency

Water Sources:

96.8% Municipal Water
56.7% Water Tanks/Trucks
36.1% Public Wells
19.0% Rivers And Lakes
2.2% Other
0.2% Open/Broken Pipes

Electricity Supply

11.9% None
39.8% 1-3 Hours Per Day
41.8% Four Or More Hours Per Day

Fuel Access:

55.1% No Access
29.5% Benzene
28.6% Propane
13.1% Other
12.3% Diesel
11.5% Kerosene

Visited By Health Workers In Past 30 Days?

33.7% Yes
62.5% No


77.9% None Working
22.1% At Least One Family Member Working

Status Of Property Left Behind:

41.88% Don’t Know
20.71% Accessible
17.63% Occupied By Others
4.07% Destroyed
1.25% Used By Military
0.22% Controlled By Government

Source Of Assistance:

55.6% Humanitarian Group
49.0% Host Community
41.4% Religious Group
26.9% Iraqi Red Crescent
17.1% Relatives
8.6% Ministry Of Displacement and Migration
7.8% None
0.8% Other
0.4% Other Government Agency


94% Food
71% Shelter
63% Work
40% Water
17% School
11% Health
3% Other
1% Hygiene
0% No Answer
0% Sanitation
0% Legal Help

The Displaced In Baghdad

Baghdad was the scene of the greatest displacement in Iraq. When the sectarian war began, the capital was ground zero. 90,731 families, approximately 550,099 fled the fighting. 48.7% said they were forced out, with 39.6% saying they faced direct threats on their life. 65% of the country’s displaced come from there as a result. Most usually simply moved to a different section of the city with 82.54% of the displaced within the city coming from Baghdad itself. As a result the capital has been largely segregated into a Shiite east and Sunni west. Many also fled to Baghdad from neighboring Anbar, 1.56% of the displaced in the city, and Diyala, 14.32%.

Before 2006, the city had very few internal refugees. During the U.S. invasion, some residents were forced out, but they moved south to where the fighting was already over. The October 2004 offensive in Fallujah led to 12,000 Anbaris moving to Baghdad, but most have moved back since then. Many of these new arrivals were not welcomed in the capital. Lots of them were from the country and were not familiar with city life. The displaced during the sectarian war were treated much differently. Many settled in areas with their own sect and/or family, and usually received local aid.

With security improving, Baghdad has seen the largest number of returns in the country. The IOM counted 26,347 families coming back, equaling about 158,082 people. The vast majority, 25,178 families were internally displaced. A major reason for them coming back was the lack of services in their current locations. Refugees from other countries also cited a lack of money and visa restrictions.

The local and federal government have been promoting these returns. The city council has given out cash to help. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also issued Order 101 in August 2008 ordering all squatters in Baghdad to leave their residences in one month. This was meant to help returns to the capital where many displaced said their houses were occupied. The Council of Ministers also announced Order 262, which offered all squatters evicted 300,000 dinars per family for six months as compensation. Evictions are happening as a result, but no squatters have received any money yet. The IOM doesn’t believe the government has any real plan to help the squatters they are kicking out. That means their situation is worsening. In the Al Batool Complex of Khadamiya 659 families got eviction notices, but had nowhere to go, and security forces bulldozed part of their community. The displaced in the Al Imam al-Hassan complex in Hurriya in Khadimiya are also facing evictions since they live in an ex-Army base.

For those that have gone back, some of their experiences have not been positive either. 59.39% of displaced families polled said their houses were occupied and 32.43% said their places had been destroyed. Iraqis that returned to the Al Salam sub-district for example, found their houses wrecked and looted by local militias.

The situation of those still displaced is very difficult as well. 60.1% of families polled had no one in their group working. In the Al Yousifiya sub-district of Mahmoudiy and Al Sikillat of Husseiniya in the Istiqlal district there are large numbers of widows and orphans amongst the displaced and returning families. The area also lacks any water supply or sewage system. In the Karkh district, many displaced children do not go to school because they are working to help with their families. There are 206 families in the Beer Alewi complex in Karkh that live in mud houses, and acquire their power illegally. Food rations also differ from neighborhood to neighborhood. In Al Yousifiya sub-district the displaced receive their rations, but with their usual shortcomings of late delivery and missing items. In contrast, families in Al Ma’amil of Rusafa do not receive any government food and suffer from malnutrition as a result. The displaced in Mariam al-Adhra complex have not transferred their rations because they are afraid of being tracked down by the government and being evicted as a result. There is little to no help for these families. 49.6% say they have received no assistance.

Statistics On Displaced In Baghdad


Population: 7,145,470
Displaced Before Feb. 06: 3,867 families, approximately 23,202 people
Displaced After Feb. 06: 90,731 families, approximately 550,099 people
Number Of Displaced Surveyed By IOM: 60,724 families, approximately 364,344 people
Number Of Returns: 26,347 families, approximately 158,082 people
Sect Of Displaced: 70.6% Shiite Arab, 29.2% Sunni Arab, 0.1% Christian Chaldean
Origin Of Displaced: 82.54% Baghdad, 14.32% Diyala, 1.56% Anbar, 0.82% Salahaddin,
0.28% Tamim, 0.22% Ninewa, 0.14% Babil, 0.04% Wasit, 0.03% Basra, 0.01% Karbala, 0.01% Maysan

Reasons For Displacement:

48.7% Forced Out
39.6% Direct Threat On Life
37.6% Armed Conflict
30.1% General Violence
29.2% Left Out Of Fear

Reasons For Being Targeted:

94.4% Sect
6.5% Don’t Think Targeted
1.8% Political Opinion
0.3% Social Group
0.1% Ethnic Group

Displacement Rate

February 2006 only 50 displaced
March 2006 had increased to 3,600
April 2006 up to almost 4,000
Dropped in May 2006 to 2,500
Increased again in June 06
Highest point was December 2006 at 7,000
Declined since then to almost 0 by June 2007


80.3% Return To Original Home
Approximately 10% Resettle In 3rd Location
5% Integrate Into Current Location


26,347 families, approximately 158,082 people to 144 locations

Internally Displaced vs. Refugees Amongst Returns:

25,178 displaced families, 1,169 refugee families

Security Situation:

43.5% Death Or Injury In Family
3.4% Need Permission To Move
2.6% Missing Family Member
1.1% Other Restrictions
0.1% Checkpoints Near Home

Type Of Housing:

72.8% Rent
12.5% Live With Relatives Or Friends
8.2% Other
4.6% Collective Settlement
1.5% Public Housing
0.0% Former Military Camp

Access To Food Rations:

51.7% Sometimes
42.9% Always
5.4% Not At All

Reasons For Non-Access To Food Rations:

17.3% Delay Transferring To new Location
12.4% Insecure Shipping Route
3.3% Other
2.4% Families Lack Documentation Or Ration Cards
1.9% Don’t Know
0.2% Lack Transportation For Food
0.2% No Food To Distribute

Food Aid Sources:

60.3% None
25.3% Religious Group
11.5% Other
10.0% Humanitarian Group
8.9% Other Federal Government Agency
2.7% regional Government Agency

Water Sources:

96.2% Municipal Water
7.5% Water Tanks/Trucks
7.6% Open/Broken Pipes
1.8% Rivers And Lakes
1.1% Public Wells
0.0% Other

Electricity Supply

0.9% None
40.7% 1-3 Hours Per Day
58.3% Four Or More Hours Per Day

Fuel Access:

82.8% Propane
72.3% Benzene
33.5% Kerosene
13.3% No Access
7.1% Diesel
0.2% Other

Visited By Health Workers In Past 30 Days?

82.8% Yes
13.4% No


60.1% None Working
39.9% At Least One Family Member Working

Status Of Property Left Behind:

7.66% Don’t Know
59.39% Occupied By Others
32.43% Destroyed
26.72% Accessible
1.15% Used By Military
0.41% Controlled By Government

Source Of Assistance:

49.6% None
28.9% Religious Group
36.2% Relatives
17.2% Humanitarian Group
16.0% Host Community
10.9% Iraqi Red Crescent
7.3% Ministry Of Displacement and Migration
1.8% Other Government Agency
0.2% Other


97.4% Food
55.4% Legal Help
41.5% Shelter
34.7% Work
30.6% Water
19.4% Other
17.4% Health
0.6% Hygiene
0.4% School
0.2% No Answer
0% Sanitation

The Displaced In Diyala

Security is still an issue in Diyala. In July 2008 Iraqi forces launched their latest offensive in the province. That improved things a little, but there are still attacks, especially from female suicide bombers. Baquba is the most volatile area. Conflict between Baghdad and the Kurds over the disputed territory of Khanaqin has also increased tensions. Overall, the security situation is worse according to the IOM. The Ministry of Displacement and Migration however, recently claimed that things were going so well that the government will no longer register internal refugees in Diyala anymore.

Diyala has no restrictions on the movement or the entrance of the displaced. The province has the second most refugees after Baghdad. 80% of them come from the province itself, with 16% coming from the capital. Before 2006 most of the displaced were fleeing the U.S. invasion. They consisted of both Arabs and Kurds. Many lived in squalid conditions, squatting, or living in mud or wooden huts. In 2005 many families returned to their homes. Displaced from other provinces also began leaving Diyala as violence increased there. Overall, refugee families were generally welcomed because they came from the same sect or family.

After the July 2008 military offensive, almost 3,000 displaced families returned to their homes. Some have been attacked however. The security forces have responded, and are trying to ensure their safety.

Life continues to be difficult for those still displaced in Diyala. Many are led by women as their husbands have been killed during the sectarian fighting. In Baquba, there are many displaced women doing hard labor, others have no jobs in the area. There are 100 displaced families in the Khan Beni Sa’ad sub-district, and 89 families in Salam sub-district of Khalis living in tents. In Hatim al-Jamil there is no sewage, and the displaced drink from rivers.

Statistics On Displaced In Baghdad


Population: 1,560,621
Displaced Before Feb. 06: 9,100 families, approximately 54,600 people
Displaced After Feb. 06: 22.784 families, approximately 136,891 people
Number Of Returns: 6,216 families, approximately 37,296 people
Sect Of Displaced: 57.6% Sunni Arab, 33.3% Shiite Arab, 6.3% Shiite Kurd, 1.8% Sunni
Kurd, 0.6% Shiite Turkomen, 0.5% Sunni Turkomen
Origin Of Displaced: 82.8% Diyala, 16.51% Baghdad, 0.24% Anbar, 0.16% Tamim,
0.12% Babil, 0.12% Salahaddin, 0.04% Basra, 0.01% Ninewa

Reasons For Displacement:

60.3% General Violence
45.5% Forced Out
44.2% Direct Threat On Life
32.2% Left Out Of Fear
22.8% Armed Conflict

Reasons For Being Targeted:

80.1% Sect
10.3% Don’t Think Targeted
30.0% Political Opinion
5.5% Social Group
1.4% Ethnic Group

Displacement Rate

Peaked in July 2006 at 1,750
Slow decline until November 2007 to almost 0
Has been flat since then


87.8% Return To Original Home
Approximately 5% Resettle In 3rd Location
Approximately 3% Integrate Into Current Location


6,216 families, approximately 37,296 people to 63 locations

Internally Displaced vs. Refugees Amongst Returns:

6,168 displaced families, 48 refugee families

Security Situation:

60.2% Checkpoints Near Home
49.3% Death Or Injury In Family
17.9% Missing Family Member
9.2% Other Restrictions
7.0% Need Permission To Move

Type Of Housing:

50.1% Rent
21.7% Live With Relatives Or Friends
12.0% Other
8.1% Public Housing
3.2% Collective Settlement
2.9% Former Military Camp

Access To Food Rations:

60.6% Sometimes
23.1% Always
16.4% Not At All

Reasons For Non-Access To Food Rations:

4.6% Delay Transferring To new Location
39.7% Insecure Shipping Route
24.7% Lack Transportation For Food
14.8% No Food To Distribute
1.3% Families Lack Documentation Or Ration Cards
1.2% Don’t Know
1.0% Other

Food Aid Sources:

56.3% None
24.1% Humanitarian Group
13.1% Other Federal Government Agency
11.5% Other
6.4% Religious Group
0.9% regional Government Agency

Water Sources:

86.3% Municipal Water
71.8% Water Tanks/Trucks
45.7% Rivers And Lakes
42.0% Public Wells
20.2% Open/Broken Pipes
1.6% Other

Fuel Access:

51.6% No Access
44.2% Propane
20.7% Kerosene
13.4% Benzene
8.3% Other
3.9% Diesel

Visited By Health Workers In Past 30 Days?

39.7% Yes
59.4% No


59.4% None Working
40.6% At Least One Family Member Working

Status Of Property Left Behind:

51.08% Don’t Know
26.62% Destroyed
19.30% Accessible
17.77% Occupied By Others
3.98% Used By Military
2.54% Controlled By Government

Source Of Assistance:

53.2% Host Community
32.7% Iraqi Red Crescent
39.3% Relatives
26.8% Humanitarian Group
20.8% Ministry Of Displacement and Migration
18.9% None
12.8% Religious Group
2.6% Other
1.8% Other Government Agency


86.4% Shelter
78.0% Food
76.1% Work
24.4% Other
11.7% Sanitation
4.2% Water
2.8% Legal Help
1.2% Health
1.2% School
0.7% No Answer
0.6% Hygiene


International Organization for Migration, “Anbar, Baghdad & Diyala, Governorate Profiles,” December 2008
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