Friday, October 31, 2008

Iraq Needs Real Governance Center for Strategic and International Studies Report Says

Anthony Cordesman from the Center for Strategic and International Studies is one of the leading military analysts on Iraq and the Middle East. In September 2008 he wrote a report on transferring Iraq’s provinces to Baghdad’s control, and its consequences. He notes that while Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been able to wield the hammer recently in security operations, the Iraqi government still has not proven that it can carry out the more difficult build and hold aspects of a successful counterinsurgency program. That includes reconciliation, and real governance at all levels; something hindered by the deep divisions between Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds.

Iraq’s political system is still developing. The three main groups in Iraq, the Sunnis, the Shiites, and Kurds still have deep disagreements over the future of the country, which hinders the development of the government. Reconciliation is an important and necessary step to overcome these problems. Iraq has passed several reconciliation laws as part of this process, but it is always the implementation that matters.

The Accountability and Justice Law for example, was passed to replace the old Debaathification act from the American Coalition Provisional Authority. As reported earlier, no officials have been appointed to the Supreme National Commission on Accountability and Justice that is suppose to administer it. The government has been using this as an excuse not to follow it, except for the Interior Ministry, which has accepted former officers into the security forces. This is happening despite the fact that the new law says that no ex-Baathists can work for the ministry. It says a lot about Iraqis inability to follow through on legislation it passes when most of the government is ignoring the Accountability and Justice act, but the one ministry that is forbidden from doing so, is. It is no wonder then that this law and others like it have not ameliorated the distrust of the Sunnis.

In early 2009, Iraq is scheduled to have provincial elections, which could also change the country’s political make-up. Cordesman points out, that simply having a vote, doesn’t add authority or legitimacy. What is important is the type of governance that happens afterwards. In Iraq’s case, three elections since the invasion have done little to solve the nation’s divisions.

Voting has not fixed other problems such as the government’s inability to spend its budget and provide basic services. Cordesman doesn’t mention it, but Prime Minister Maliki’s announcements to rebuild Basra, Sadr City, Mosul, Maysan, and Diyala provinces provide perfect examples of the government’s inability to build after security operations have cleared. After each military offensive in those five areas, the Prime Minister said that Baghdad would spend $100 million to help with reconstruction. So far those have been empty promises. In Basra, the governor argued over spending the money. Similarly, in Sadr City, the local council couldn’t agree on contracts. In Mosul, Maysan, and Diyala, nothing has happened. In fact, the U.S. and England are doing whatever reconstruction is happening in Basra and Sadr City because Baghdad has not proven to be up to the task.

On October 3, 2008 Iraq received control of the 12th province, Babil in the south, from the United States. All of Iraq’s provinces are suppose to be turned over to Baghdad by early 2009. These are important steps towards Iraq receiving full sovereignty. However, the provinces are turned over when the number of attacks in each province decreases, not whether the provincial governments are working or whether there is any reconciliation. Cordesman argues that this happens many times whether the Iraqis are ready or not. In the March 2008 quarterly report to Congress, the Pentagon said that the turnover of Basra had been successful, there was less violence, and that the Army and police were in control. That month Maliki launched an offensive against Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army that led to bloody fighting in the city of Basra and across the south.

Cordesman’s conclusion is that while there has been military progress in Iraq, the more important political and economic development has lagged behind. Baghdad has not been able to carry out meaningful reconciliation. The central government and provinces are barely able to provide basic service and spend their budgets. Iraqi elections in 2009 have the opportunity to shuffle the seats of power in the governorates, but they will still be sitting at the same broken table. The U.S. has put too much emphasis on security as a benchmark. Now that that is improving, it is time for Washington and Baghdad to step up their efforts to build Iraq’s infrastructure and government so that it can hold the country together.

For more on Anthony Cordesman’s writings on Iraq see:

Anthony Cordesman, CSIS Report on Iraqi Forces

Cordesman Interview: U.S. Needs To Stay For The Long Haul In Iraq

Aswat al-Iraq, “Maliki allocates $100 million for Mosul projects,” 5/18/08
- “Over 7,500 police members sacked this year – official,” 5/29/08
- “Parl’t forms accountability & justice panel next term – MP,” 9/8/08
- “SIIC head, Babel governor take up security,” 10/22/08
Biddle, Stephen, Nasr, Vali, Nash, William, “Political and Security Developments in Iraq and the Region,” Council on Foreign Relations, 6/12/08
Cordesman, Anthony, “Transferring Provinces To Iraqi Control: The Reality And The Risks,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 9/2/08
Department of Defense, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” September 2008
International Center for Transitional Justice, “Briefing Paper: Iraq’s New ‘Accountability and Justice’ Law,” 1/22/08
Rubin, Alissa and Goode, Erica, “Iraq Struggle Unfolds in Peaceful Protest and Violent Attacks in Sadr City,” New York Times, 4/28/08
Al-Sabaah, “Cabinet allocates $ 100 mln to Diyala province,” 8/7/08
Senanayake, Sumedha, “Iraq: Will Passage Of New Law Appease Sunnis?” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1/15/08
Tavernise, Sabrina, “Shiite Militia in Baghdad Sees Its Power Ebb,” New York Times, 7/27/08

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Maliki’s Tribal Support Councils Appear To Be Paying Off

As reported earlier, since the security operation in Basra in March 2008 Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been organizing local tribes to back the security forces and his government. So far these Tribal Support Councils have been established in Basra, Maysan, Babil, Wasit, Karbala, Dhi Qar, and Baghdad provinces. They are paid $21,000 by Baghdad when they first form, then receive $10,000 a month afterwards. They answer directly to Maliki’s office.

This has caused increasing tensions with the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) who rules most of the south. The SIIC is afraid that Maliki will use these sheikhs to help his Dawa party gain seats in the upcoming provincial elections. The Prime Minister has publicly declared that the councils are non-partisan in nature, and that he would disband any that are allied with a party, but their political nature is apparent to everyone.

Recently, a tribal leader in southern Iraq publicly said what has been an open secret for months now that the Tribal Support Councils are meant to sway voters to Maliki’s Dawa party. Sheikh Nabil Sagban, the head of the Fatla tribe and a Tribal Support Council in Qadisiyah, said that the provincial elections are causing increasing tensions between Dawa and the SIIC. Each one is looking to gain followers before the balloting in early 2009. The tribes are in the middle as they can influence large numbers of Iraqis, especially in rural areas. The coming of a Support Council to the Fatla area of Qadisiyah seemed to work for Maliki as the sheikh declared he would vote for Dawa, and that he would tell his tribesmen to do the same. For his trouble, he had a dinner celebrating the end of Ramadan raided by an SIIC controlled police unit.

Maliki seems far from done as the government announced a new council was being formed in Wasit, and another in Najaf. The SIIC controlled provincial council in Wasit objected, as the party has done in other southern governorates. The SIIC has said that these tribal groups are unconstitutional, and even some local Dawa members have complained that they are not integrated with the provincial governments. This will not stop the Prime Minister, as he is intent on flexing his newfound power in the country, even if that means splitting with his allies like the SIIC.

For more on the Tribal Support Councils see:

Maliki Responds To His Critics On Tribal Support Councils

Disputes Over Tribal Support Councils

Alsumaria, “Al Maliki defends tribal awakening councils,” 10/9/08
- “Rows growing between two major Iraqi parties,” 9/18/08
Aswat al-Iraq, “Karbala governor says no-confidence vote proposal is political pressure tool,” 10/1/08
- “PM announces formation of 17 tribal councils in Missan,” 6/23/08
- “Premier to cancel partisan support councils,” 10/9/08
- “Thi-Qar governor slams govt’s plan of installing support councils,” 10/3/08
- “Tribal chieftain announces opening 20 Supports Councils offices in Thi-Qar,” 10/1/08
- “Wassit clans agree to back security agencies,” 4/6/08
- “Wassit province refuses to establish support councils,” 9/24/08
Cochrane, Marisa, “The Battle for Basra,” Institute for the Study of War, 5/31/08
Garcia-Navarro, Lourdes, “Competition Between Iraqi Shiites Gains Strength,” All Things Considered, NPR, 10/22/08
Hendawi, Hamza, “Program in Iraq against al-Qaida faces uncertainty,” Associated Press, 6/29/08, “Najaf Forms Tribal ‘Support Council,’” 10/27/08
- “New Tribal Groups Buck Wishes of Wasit Council,” 10/23/08
Levinson, Charles and Nabhan, Ali, “Iraqi tribes caught between rival Shiite parties,” USA Today, 10/20/08

Rajiv Chandrasekaran: How Early US Failures Created the Iraq of Today

It is Friday morning and Rajiv Chandrasekaran takes the stage. He pulls the microphone a little closer to his lips and welcomes the coffee-sipping audience of students, writers, activists.

“Iraqis believed they should have been free to determine their own destiny,” he said. “They were not a vanquished nation in need of overhaul at foreign hands.”

Chandrasekaran’s powerful address opened Iraq at the Crossroads: Protecting Refugees, Rescuing Our Allies, and Empowering Iraqi Law, hosted at Rutgers School of Law last Friday.

Chandrasekaran, author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City and National Editor for The Washington Post, served as the newspaper’s bureau chief in Baghdad from April 2003 to October 2004. From the Green Zone—or “neoconservative terrarium” as he has called it—Chandrasekaran reported on what he soon recognized as a dismal US failure to implement an effective strategy for post-Saddam Iraq:
I was appalled by how we Americans were squandering our window of opportunity to build stability in Iraq. Instead of focusing principally on creating jobs, the economic advisers inside the Green Zone set about rewriting Iraq's tax code. They spent countless hours drafting laws to protect genetically modified seeds, copyrighted movies and even the designs of microchips, instead of devoting the necessary resources to increase electricity production or repair hospitals.
Chandrasekaran explained how the absence of sound, structured policy and misplaced priorities can be understood in three pieces:

Imperial Life in the Emerald CityFirst, PEOPLE. The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which came to Baghdad after Saddam’s government fell, “sent the loyal and the willing.” When interviewed for positions by Pentagon officials, CPA hopefuls were asked questions like: “Are you a member of the Republican Party?” “What is your position on capital punishment?” and “How do you feel about Roe v. Wade?”

While fervent support of the Administration and a set of conservative, partisan values appeared necessary for employment with the CPA, international experience and knowledge of the Middle East were not— “More than half the CPA staff got their first passports to go to Iraq.”

Second, PLACE. Centered in Iraq’s Green Zone, members of the CPA had little or no immediate understanding of the chaos and ruin that was quickly befalling Iraq. Outside the Baghdad walls there was no clean or running water, looting and lawlessness erupted in the absence of government police forces, waste filled the streets, and Iraqi families took refuge in their homes waiting for the speedy delivery of democracy promised by President Bush.

Third, POLICY. Tax code reform took the top agenda seat while “New Deal-like policies” that would employ Iraqis to sweep the streets, maintain clean water systems, and restore electricity were not considered. Following the March 2003 intervention, looting, lawlessness, and traffic jams paralyzed the city as drivers sat in jammed intersections below Baghdad’s lifeless traffic lights. While the CPA was walled up in Baghdad’s Green Zone rewriting copyright laws, Iraqi civilians worried about the safety of their children and wondered how to educate their children at home now that schools were closing. Copyright infringement was probably not in the forefront of Iraqis’ minds.

Mr. Chandrasekaran explained that an understanding of post-invasion Iraq is crucial for understanding Iraq today. Without a plan for the months after Saddam was removed from power, the US government created many of the problems that have plagued the country after five years at war. Instead of working with pre-existing infrastructures of Iraq’s government, such as the city police forces and the military, the CPA and Washington elite insisted upon a complete overhaul. With unqualified leadership in Iraq, complete isolation within the fortifications of Baghdad’s Green Zone, and policies that failed to address the most critical and immediate concerns of the Iraqi people, the United States was signed up for a disorganized, violent and lengthy involvement from the very beginning.

In January Iraq will host provincial elections, an opportunity to elect new, more representative leaders, making Baghdad more directly accountable to Iraqi constituents. Unlike the last provincial elections in 2005, all of Iraq’s communities are expected to turn out in force, and Iraqi voters will have the opportunity to vote for individual candidates rather than faceless “party lists.”

Chandrasekaran suggested that as Baghdad’s government becomes one of the people, there will be more room to address the needs of Iraqis. Thanking the Rutgers students and community for addressing the urgent Iraqi humanitarian crisis, he said that peace and security can only be built with great focus on the needs of the Iraqi people.

*Hey there! If you have not yet joined the 14,000 Americans who have signed The Humanitarian Pledge, please do so today! Help us put the humanitarian needs of vulnerable Iraqis at the center of the U.S. policy debate on Iraq. You can also help us raise public awareness by sharing this one-page backgrounder about the crisis with your community.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Government Continues Its Crackdown On Diyala Sons Of Iraq

On October 21, Iraqi soldiers raided the house of Mullah Shihab al-Safe, the leader of a Sons of Iraq (SOI) unit in Buhrez, south of Diyala’s provincial capital Baquba. Al-Safe wasn’t home at the time, but his brother and father were. They were arrested, but eventually released. An Interior Ministry spokesman said the raid was conducted because there were charges of terrorism and murder against the SOI head. Al-Safe told Reuters that Iraqi forces also went to the house of the Diyala provincial spokesman for the SOI. He was arrested, and according to al-Safe, beaten as well.

As reported earlier, Baghdad has been going after the SOI in Diyala since at least May 2008. The government has issued arrest warrants, shut down their offices, rounded up over 100 fighters and leaders, and the provincial security chief who was an SOI supporter was dragged away by a counterterrorism unit in a controversial raid on the provincial government headquarters in Baquba.

Prime Minister Maliki views the SOI as an American-controlled force that has no allegiance to Baghdad. That is the reason why he has acted to weaken and disrupt the SOI in Diyala and other provinces. At the same time, the government accepted control of 54,000 SOI in Baghdad this month. That gives Maliki a carrot, their paycheck, and a stick, jail, to use against much of the SOI program. Most will probably be run off by threats, intimidation, and warrants, with the rest eventually given low level jobs in the security forces or left to be unemployed.

Aswat al-Iraq, “5 Popular Committees members arrested in Diala,” 10/21/08
Farrell, Stephen, Rubin, Alissa, Dagher, Sam and Goode, Erica, “As Fears Ease, Baghdad Sees Walls Tumble,” New York Times, 10/10/08
Levinson, Charles, “Awakening Councils in hiding as arrests on rise,” USA Today, 9/22/08
Londono, Ernesto, “For U.S. and Sunni Allies, a Turning Point,” Washington Post, 9/30/08
McCallister, William, “Sons of Iraq: A Study in Irregular Warfare,” Small Wars Journal, 9/8/08
Parker, Sam, “Guest Post: Behind the Curtain in Diyala,” Abu Muqawama Blog, 8/20/08
Reuters, “Iraqi Forces Raid Home Of Pro-U.S. Group Leader,” 10/21/08
Russo, Claire, “The Maliki Government Confronts Diyala,” Institute for the Study of War,” 9/23/08
al-Tuawijri, Ali, “Iraq’s anti-Qaeda fighters fear for their future,” Agence France Presse, 9/6/08

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Iraq Center for Research & Strategic Studies’ Survey Of Iraqis

The following commentary originally appeared in Musings On Iraq

The Iraq based think tank, the Iraq Center for Research & Strategic Studies recently released a public opinion poll they conducted from late September to October 2008. Surveys of Iraqis, especially, by Iraqis themselves in English are rarities. The questions covered a wide range of topics from general security and political ones, to the Status of Forces Agreement between Iraq and the U.S., to accessibility of basic services, to what should Iraq do if there was war between America and Iran. Overall, the polling shows the growing popularity of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, that security is still a main issue, but that services have surpassed it as a pressing need, and general opposition to a security agreement with the United States.

The poll was conducted face-to-face with 3,000 Iraqis from September 25 to October 5, 2008. Roughly one-third of the respondents came from Baghdad, with the rest spread across the country. 61.8% were men, 38.2% were women. 93.9% had some kind of education from primary to a college degree. 77.8% were Arab, 15.3% were Kurds, 2.0% were Turkomen, and 0.9% were Assyrian.

First there was a general question of what was the most important issue facing the country. Basic goods, services, and jobs combined received the most responses at 36.1%. Security with 30.6% was the single most important issue. After those, the dispute over Kirkuk 6.0%, poverty and standard of living 5.5% rounded out the top five. At number six was the presence of U.S. and Coalition forces at 4.5%, followed by disarming militias 4.3%, corruption 3.2%, federalism 2.8%, and other economic topics 1.8%. On security itself, 68.4% of those surveyed said they felt very safe in their own district. That compared to almost 30% who said they did not feel that way. The number of non-security issues that Iraqis responded to highlights the post-Surge status quo in Iraq. Violence and attacks are still major problems, but increasingly Iraqis want a functioning government and employment.

When asked what Iraqis want from their government 55.3% said security was still the top priority. After that services 24.9% and jobs 14.8% were next. Most were very unhappy with the state of Iraq’s services and infrastructure. On food rations 27.8% said they were very good to good, compared to 45.8% who said they were not good to very bad. 25.5% said they were acceptable. The availability of fuel was seen as equally lacking with 21.5% saying the situation was positive, while 49.5% saying it was not good to very bad. On access to water, 30.3% said it was very good to good, compared to 46.4% saying it was bad, while 22.6% saying it was acceptable. The greatest discontent seemed to be with electricity with only 9.8% saying it was good. 25.3% said it was not good, and a whopping 53.4% said it was very bad. Only 10.3% felt it was acceptable. The Iraqi government has consistently struggled to provide basic services and goods to its public. This is due to the lack of trained staff, a brain drain of middle class professionals, corruption, and a paper based bureaucracy that takes months to get anything done.

Iraq’s parliament recently passed a new provincial election law, so there was a question about which party people supported. The largest response was no one with 17.9%, showing a level of cynicism amongst Iraqis. After that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Islamic Dawa Party received 14.7%, followed by 13.3% for former Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s National Accord Front, 8.5% said don’t know, and then the two Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party at 7.2% and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan with 6.4%. The Sadrists only got 4.1%, but that was better than their main rival and the largest Shiite party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) at 2.4%. Of the Sunni parties, Vice president Tariq Hashimi’s Islamic Party of Iraq did the best at 3.4%. They were followed by the Sunni independents Al-Eummah Iraqi Party at 2.5%, another independent group, the Iraqi National Dialogue Front at 2.4%, which tied it with the Anbar Awakening Council. The most surprising result of this question was the strong showing by former Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s National Accord Front. Allawi’s party, which is nationalist in character, has largely gone unmentioned in the inter-Shiite and inter-Sunni power struggles now occurring in the country. If these polling numbers hold up, Allawi’s party could have a surprising showing in the 2009 election. Also of note was the poor showing by the SIIC, which controls most of the southern provinces plus Baghdad. Maliki’s new standing has boosted his party as well, and they could ride that to election victories. Even the weakened Sadrists could do better than the SIIC based upon this poll.

When asked which politician could do the best job for Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had the highest positives with 17.2%, followed by former Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi at 16.7%, none at 13.2%, former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari at 7.9% who broke away from the Dawa party and formed his own National Reform Movement, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani at 6.3%, and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani at 4.3%. Sadr ranked eighth at 3.8%, while SIIC Vice President Adil Abdul Mahdi got 3.6%, and SIIC head Abdul Aziz al-Hakeem 1.9%. Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi of the Islamic Iraqi Party was the most popular Sunni politician at 3.6%. Saleh al-Mutlaq, head of the independent Sunni party the Iraqi National Dialogue Front, got a 2.9%, while Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, the head of the Anbar Awakening got 2.2%. These results closely followed the one about the parties, with Ayad Allawi again doing surprisingly well, coming in second only to the Prime Minister. The established Sunni politicians also seem to be doing better than Sheikh Abu Risha of the Anbar Awakening Council, but that probably won’t stop the tribes from sweeping the Iraqi Islamic Party out of power in Anbar. In the rest of Iraq, the Iraqi Accordance Front coalition and independents like the Iraqi National Dialogue Front will probably get the majority of Sunni support, which could change the provincial councils in Salahaddin and Ninewa, which are currently controlled by the Kurdish parties.

The Prime Minister’s new standing in the country after his security operations led the poll to ask if Maliki stayed in office would it improve the country. 46.2% said yes, 42.5% said no, showing a divided opinion about Iraq’s leader.

The survey also included questions about the timing, registration, and information about the provincial elections. 66.7% said the elections should have a specific date, 15.2% said they should be delayed for a year, while 5.5% said they should be at the same time as parliamentary election. 69.7% said they had not updated their election information, which hopefully means they did not have to. Iraq’s voter registration is based upon the food rations system, so only those that move have to re-register. 26.6% said they had.

The U.S. and Iraqi governments are currently in a heated debate over a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the two that would legalize a continued U.S. military presence in the country after December 31, 2008, and would set their diplomatic relations into the future. Despite the importance of the issue, 49.8% said they had not heard of the SOFA, while 46.2% said they had. Overall, 61.3% said they disagreed with the agreement, compared to 28.5% who supported it. The survey then broke down the opinions of those who had heard of the SOFA about how it would affect Iraq’s economy, security, and politics. 18.9% said it would improve Iraq’s economy and standing in the region. 17.7% however said it would weaken the economy and allow the U.S. to control the country’s resources. 19.2% said it would help with security and establishing a strong government, while 18.2% said it would weaken Baghdad and lead to instability. 18.7% felt it would have a bad effect on the future of the country and its relations with the region, while 18.5% said it would help stabilize Iraq. The overwhelming opposition to the SOFA, and the mixed views about its effects, has put the agreement in jeopardy as current press reports show.

In terms of the Middle East, those polled felt like Iraq should play a greater role in the region and stay clear of U.S. disputes. When asked what should Iraq do if war broke out between the U.S. and Iran for example, almost two thirds, 71.6% said their country should stay neutral. Only 14.7% said Iraq should help the U.S., while 6.1% said they should help Iran. When asked who Iraq should have a strategic relationship with, the U.S. and Iran engendered almost the same responses. 48.1% were strongly to somewhat opposed to ties with the U.S., while 49.2% said the same about Iran. Britain had the third highest negatives with 44.1% against. On the positive side, 77% said Iraq should have ties with Syria, 73.2% said the same for Jordan, and 66.9% for Saudi Arabia.

Today, the issue of federalism and regional governments is only between Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government. The SIIC use to support an autonomous southern Shiite region, but has largely dropped that from their agenda. That was largely because their idea was unpopular, which is shown in the survey. 69.9% said Iraq should have a strong government in Baghdad, as opposed to 17.7% who said authority should reside in the provinces. 70.0% also said they were opposed to establishing any new regional governments outside of Kurdistan, while only 23.9% said there should be.

The last question on the survey was about how the respondents identified themselves. 69.8% said they preferred Iraqi citizen. 10.6% said their nationality such as Arab, Kurds, Assyrian, Turkomen, etc. 7.6% said their tribe, and 5.2% said their religion, while 4.9% said their town, locality or region. From 2006-2007 as violence in Iraq was at its peak and Shiites and Sunnis were at war, American commentators said that Iraq had always been divided by sect. When the Anbar Awakening began turning the tide on Al Qaeda in Iraq, and the Sons of Iraq spread across central Iraq, analysts then began saying that Iraqi society was based upon tribes. This survey however shows that over two-thirds still think of themselves as Iraqis first, with tribes and sect ranking below 10%.

Here are all of the results of the Iraq Center for Research & Strategic Studies poll.

  • Men 61.8%
  • Women 38.2%

  • Preparatory 23.2%
  • Secondary 22.9%
  • Primary 16.6%
  • Bachelor 15.6%
  • Diploma 13.9%
  • None 5.1%
  • High education 1.7%
  • Don’t know 0.6%
  • No answer 0.4%

Sample by Provinces:
  • Baghdad 32.2%
  • Ninewa 8.3%
  • Basra 8.2%
  • Sulamaniyah 6.5%
  • Irbil 5.7%
  • Dhi Qar 4.6%
  • Babil 3.7%
  • Najaf 3.6%
  • Anbar 3.5%
  • Tamim 3.5%
  • Diyala 3.2%
  • Maysan 2.8%
  • Wasit 2.8%
  • Salahaddin 2.7%
  • Karbala 2.6%
  • Qadisiyah 2.6%
  • Dohuk 2.0%
  • Muthanna 1.3%

What is the most important topics facing Iraq at present?
  • Security 30.6%
  • Unemployment 18.2%
  • Basic goods and services 17.9%
  • Kirkuk 6.0%
  • Poverty and standard of living 5.5%
  • Presence of Coalition forces 4.5%
  • Disarming militias 4.3%
  • Corruption 3.2%
  • Federalism 2.8%
  • Other economic topics 1.8%
  • Relations between sects, ethnicities and religious groups 1.0%
  • Other political topics 1.0%
  • Forced migration 0.8%
  • Accommodation 0.7%
  • Education 0.6%
  • Crime 0.4%
  • Changing constitution 0.3%
  • Don’t know 0.2%
  • No reply 0.1%

Feelings about security in your district?
  • Very safe 68.4%
  • Not very safe 22.0%
  • Not safe at all 7.5%
  • Don’t know 1.8%
  • No Answer 0.3%

Do you agree on setting a curfew in insecure areas?
  • Yes 56.4%
  • No 40.5%
  • Don’t know 2.5%
  • No answer 0.6%

If agreed, what is the result?
  • Weakening of armed groups? Yes 48.3%, No 5.9%, Don’t know 1.4%, No answer 0.7%
  • Increase in suffering for public Yes 32.3%, No 22.0%, Don’t know 1.3%, No answer 0.7%
  • Imposing law and order Yes 41.1$, No 12.4%, Don’t know 1.9%, No answer 0.8%
  • Collective punishment Yes 17.5%, No 36.3%, Don’t know 1.7%, No answer 0.8%
  • Incapacitate security forces Yes 15.6%, NO 37.4%, Don’t know 2.4%, No answer 0.8%

What is the best media source for information about the law and order operations?
  • TV 82.4%
  • Don’t know 7.1%
  • No answer 5.9%
  • Poster 3.5%
  • Radio 0.6%
  • Newspaper 0.5%

What do you think about the reporting on the law and order operations?
  • Somewhat accurate 36.9%
  • Very accurate 29.1%
  • Somewhat inaccurate 11.4%
  • Not accurate at all 9.1%
  • Don’t know 8.5%
  • No answer 5.0%

What do Iraqis want from their government?
  • Security 55.3%
  • Services 24.9%
  • Jobs 14.8%
  • Democracy 3.4%
  • Don’t Know 1.3%
  • No Answer 0.3%

Level of agreement with the following
  • Quantity of food ration 4.6% very good, 23.2% good, 25.5% acceptable, 21.9% not good, 23.9% very bad
  • Oil, gas, oil availability 6.8% very good, 21.7% good, 26.2% acceptable, 22.8% not good, 22.5% very bad
  • Fuel availability 3.6% very good, 17.9% good, 27.6% acceptable, 24.8% not good, 24.7% very bad
  • Roads and bridges 6.0% very good, 21.7% good, 25.9% acceptable, 20.4% not good, 24.3% very bad
  • First aid 9.4% very good, 27.2% good, 28.1% acceptable, 16.8% not good, 17.9% very bad
  • Waterways 6.7% very good, 18.6% good, 22.9% acceptable, 19.8% not good, 30.5% very bad
  • Garbage pick up 7.4% very good, 17.8% good, 27.1% acceptable, 19.1% not good, 27.3% very bad
  • Electricity 9.8% good, 10.3% acceptable, 25.3% not good, 53.4% very bad
  • Water 5.2% very good, 25.1% good, 22.6% acceptable, 21.8% not good, 24.6% very bad

When do you want provincial elections?
  • Specific time 66.7%
  • Delay it for a year 15.2%
  • Same time as parliamentary elections 5.5%
  • Don’t know 9.1%
  • No Answer 3.5%

Did you update your election information?
  • 69.7% no
  • 26.6% yes
  • Don’t know 2.3%
  • No answer 1.4%

If you did update your election information, was it correct?
  • 17.8% correct
  • 8.3% somewhat correct
  • 0.1% incorrect
  • 0.2% don’t know
  • 0.2% no answer

Which one of the following person could make the most positive change in the country?
  • Nouri al-Maliki [Prime Minister – Dawa Part] 17.2%
  • Ayad Allawi [Former Interim Prime Minister – Iraqi National List] 16.7%
  • None 13.2%
  • Ibrahim al-Jaafari [Former Prime Minister – National Reform Movement] 7.9%
  • Masooud Barzani [President Kurdish Regional Government – Kurdistan Democratic Party] 6.3%
  • Jalal Talabani [President of Iraq – Patriotic Union of Kurdistan] 4.3%
  • Don’t know 4.2%
  • Moqtada al-Sadr 3.8%
  • Adil Abdul Mahdi [Vice President of Iraq – Supreme Islamic Iraq Council] 3.6%
  • Tariq al-Hashimi [Vice President of Iraq – Islamic Party of Iraq] 3.6%
  • No Answer 3.0%
  • Saleh al-Mutlaq [Head Iraqi National Dialogue Front] 2.9%
  • Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha [Head Anbar Awakening Council] 2.2%
  • Abdul Aziz al-Hakeem [Head Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council] 1.9%
  • Barhem Salih [Deputy Prime Minister – Patriotic Union of Kurdistan] 1.9%
  • Neachirevan Barzani [Prime Minister Kurdish Regional Government – Kurdistan Democratic Party] 0.9%
  • Kusart Ali 0.7%
  • Mithal al-Alusi [Ummah Iraqi Party – Sunni independent] 0.7%
  • Younadim Kanah [Assyrian Democratic Movement] 0.5%
  • Ahmed al-Chalabi [Iraqi National Congress] 0.5%
  • Ayad Jamal al-Deen [Iraqi National List] 0.5%
  • Adnan al-Dulaimi [General Council for the People of Iraq, part of Iraqi Accordance Front] 0.4%
  • Khalaf al-Ulayyan [Iraqi National Dialogue Council, part of Iraqi Accordance Front] 0.4%
  • Harith al-Dhari [Head Association of Muslim Scholars] 0.4%
  • Mahmoud al Mashhadani [Speaker Iraqi Parliament – Iraqi Accordance Front] 0.3%

If Prime Minister Maliki stayed in office would it improve all of Iraq?
  • 46.2% yes
  • 42.5% no
  • 9.6% don’t know
  • 1.7% no answer

Who will you vote for in next election?
  • None 17.9%
  • Islamic Dawa Party [Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki] 14.7%
  • National Accord Front [Former Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi] 13.3%
  • Don’t Know 8.5%
  • No Answer 7.4%
  • Kurdistan Democratic Party [Kurdish Regional Government President Masooud Barzani] 7.2%
  • Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [President of Iraq Jalal Talabani] 6.4%
  • National Reformist Movement [Former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari] 4.3%
  • Sadr Movement [Moqtada al-Sadr] 4.1%
  • Islamic Party of Iraq [Vice President Tariq Hashimi] 3.4%
  • Al-Eummah Iraqi Party [Member of Parliament Mithal al-Alusi] 2.5%
  • Anbar Awakening Council [Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha] 2.4%
  • Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council [Abdul Aziz al-Hakeem] 2.4%
  • Iraqi National Dialogue Front [Saleh al-Mutlaq] 2.4%
  • Iraqi National Dialogue Council [Khalaf al-Ulayyan] 0.9%
  • Islamic Dawa Party-Iraq 0.6%
  • Iraqi National Congress 0.4%

What media source do you get most of your information from about the provincial elections?
  • TV 83.9%
  • Poster 9.8%
  • Don’t know 3.5%
  • No answer 1.8%
  • Newspaper 0.5%
  • Radio 0.5%

What is your favorite media source for information about the provincial elections?
  • TV 89.5%
  • Poster 5.4%
  • Don’t know 2.4%
  • No answer 1.6%
  • Newspaper 0.6%
  • Radio 0.6%

What is your favorite TV channel for news?
  • Al Arabia 21.7%
  • Al Iraqia 18.9%
  • Alhurra Iraq 17.6%
  • Al Jazeera 13.6%
  • Sharqia 10.6%
  • No answer 6.0%
  • BBC Arabic 3.8%
  • Don’t know 3.2%
  • Al Huryah 1.7%
  • Kurdistan 1.6%
  • Sumaria 1.2%

What form of federalism should Iraq have?
  • Strong government in Baghdad 69.9%
  • More authority in provinces 17.7%
  • Don’t know 8.0%
  • No answer 4.4%

Do you support establishing another regional government in addition to Kurdistan?
  • No 70.0%
  • Yes 23.9%
  • Don’t know 4.0%
  • No answer 2.1%

Have you heard about the SOFA with the U.S.?
  • 49.8% no
  • 46.2% yes
  • 2.9% don’t know
  • 1.0% no answer

If you heard about the SOFA, what is your opinion of how it will affect Iraq?
  • Economy will improve and Iraq will become an economic leader in Middle East 18.9%
  • Weaken Iraq’s economy and U.S. will control its resources 17.7%
  • Don’t know 5.5%
  • No answer 4.0%
  • Will help with security and stability and a strong government 19.2%
  • Will lead to instability and weak government 18.2%
  • Don’t know 4.9%
  • No answer 3.8%
  • Bad affect on the future of the country and its relations with region 18.7%
  • Will help stabilize Iraq 18.5%
  • Don’t know 5.1%
  • No answer 3.8%

Do you agree/disagree with SOFA?
  • Disagree 61.3%
  • Agree 28.5%
  • Don’t know 8.6%
  • No answer 1.5%

If you agreed, what is the time to sign it?
  • Now 18.0%
  • 2008 U.S. presidential election 7.8%
  • Don’t know 1.9%
  • No answer 0.6%

What should Iraq do if war breaks out between the U.S. and Iran?
  • Neutral 71.6%
  • Help U.S. against Iran 14.7%
  • Help Iran against U.S. 6.1%
  • Don’t know 4.7%
  • No answer 3.0%

Which countries do you support having strategic relationships with?
  • U.S.: No answer 2.7%, Don’t know 3.9%, Strongly oppose 39.4%, Somewhat oppose 8.7%, Somewhat support 16.0%, Strongly support 29.3%
  • Britain: No answer 2.7%, Don’t know 4.2%, Strongly oppose 35.0%, Somewhat oppose 9.1%, Somewhat support 17.9%, Strongly support 31.0%
  • Turkey: No answer 2.1%, Don’t know 4.2%, Strongly oppose 20.6%, Somewhat oppose 11.6%, Somewhat support 23.8%, Strongly support 38.7%
  • Kuwait: No answer 2.6%, Don’t know 3.2%, Strongly oppose 21.7%, Somewhat oppose 14.5%, Somewhat support 26.8%, Strongly support 31.2%
  • Iran: No answer 2.6%, Don’t know 2.9%, Strongly oppose 38.7%, Somewhat oppose 10.5%, Somewhat support 20.4%, Strongly support 24.9%
  • Syria: No answer 2.6%, Don’t know 2.4%, Strongly oppose 11.5%, Somewhat oppose 6.5%, Somewhat support 27.0%, Strongly support 50.0%
  • Saudi Arabia: No answer 23%, Don’t know 25%, Strongly oppose 18.0%,Somewhat oppose 10.3%, Somewhat support 25.4%, Strongly support 41.5%
  • Jordan: No answer 2.2%, Don’t know 2.6%, Strongly oppose 12.4%, Somewhat oppose 9.6%, Somewhat support 29.6%, Strongly support 43.6%

  • Arab 77.8%
  • Kurd 15.3%
  • Turk 2.0%
  • Assyrian 0.9%

  • Muslim 66.3%
  • Shiite 24.3%
  • Sunni 6.3%
  • Christian 2.5%
  • Don’t know 0.3%
  • No answer 0.1%
  • Protestant 0.1%
  • Catholic 0.1%
  • Orthodox 0.1%

What is your most important way to identify yourself?
  • Iraqi citizen 69.8%
  • Nationality (Arab/Kurd/Assyrian/Turkmen, etc.) 10.6%
  • My tribe 7.6%
  • Shiite/Sunni/Christian 5.2%
  • My town/locality/region 4.9%
  • Job or occupation 1.1%
  • Don’t know 0.6%
  • No answer 0.2%

For more on Iraqi public opinion see:

Pentagon Public Opinion Poll of Iraqis

Chon, Gina and Naji, Zaineb, “Iraq Drive for Voters Lags,” Wall Street Journal, 9/18/08
Colvin, Marie, “Deal on American presence in Iraq close to collapse,” Sunday Times of London, 10/26/08
Department of Defense, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” September 2008
Gluck, Jason, “From Gridlock to Compromise: How Three Laws Could Begin to Transform Iraqi Politics,” United States Institute of Peace, March 2008
Iraq Centre For Research & Strategic Studies, “Public Opinion Survey in Iraq; The Security & Political Situation in Iraq,” October 2008
Sheridan, Mary Beth, “As Iraq’s Oil Flows Freely, Profits Are Stuck in Bureaucracy,” Washington Post, 10/17/08
Susman, Tina, “Iraq too dangerous for many professionals,” Los Angeles Times, 10/5/08
United States Government Accountability Office, “Iraqi Revenues, Expenditures, and Surplus,” August 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Largest Number Of Asylum Seekers Continue To Come From Iraq

The following commentary originally appeared on Musings On Iraq

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released its latest report on asylum seekers for the first half of 2008. For the third year in a row, Iraq has the largest number of people asking for asylum in 44 industrialized countries. Iraq has been number one in this category since 2006. Before that, it had also been number one in 2000 and 2002 under Saddam Hussein’s rule. In total, 19,500 Iraqis applied to leave. Russia was second with 9,400 asylum seekers, followed by 8,700 from China, 7,400 from Somalia, 6,300 from Pakistan and Afghanistan each, 6,200 from Serbia, 5,200 from Mexico, 4,800 from Nigeria, and 4,600 from Iran. 60% of the Iraqis applied to go to four countries: Sweden (3,900 Iraqis), Germany (3,400), Turkey (2,700), and the Netherlands (2,400).

Overall, the number of Iraqis asking for asylum has decreased from 2007. In that year, 45,000 put in claims. The number for the first half of 2008 was a 10% decrease from the number of Iraqis applying in the first half of 2007, and an 18% decrease from the last half. The lowest number of claims came from April-June 2008. That could point to a trend of fewer Iraqis trying to flee their country for the remainder of 2008.

Iraq still has the largest on-going refugee crisis in the Middle East since the Palestinians. Approximately 4.7 million Iraqis have left their homes. In late 2007, Iraqis began to return to their homes, but only around 3% of the total have gone back so far. The number returning has gone up and down each month, and there are ongoing disputes about whether there are more leaving or returning.

Cohen, Robert, “Iraq’s Displaced: Where To Turn?” American University International Law Review, Fall 2008
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “Asylum Levels and Trends In Industrialized Countries, First Half 2008,” 10/17/08

Iraq Symposium Inspires, Energizes Community Working for Peace in Iraq

WE’RE BACK from Iraq at the Crossroads and here to tell you about our experience!

On Friday the EPIC team participated in a national symposium on Iraq— Iraq at the Crossroads: Protecting Refugees, Rescuing Our Allies, and Empowering Iraqi Law.

Sponsored by Rutgers School of Law in Newark, NJ, the university brought together members of the Washington non-profit community, aid organizers, writers, political leaders, filmmakers, resettled Iraqis, students, and activists, all working to promote a free and secure Iraq.

The day included four panels of speakers and was opened by National Editor of The Washington Post, Rajiv Chandrasekaran. His introduction laid a brief and insightful foundation for understanding the situation in Iraq, recounting the serious failures of the Unites States government’s policy following the 2003 led intervention.

Washington, he said, “sent the loyal and the willing.” Centered in Baghdad's green zone--“the neoconservative terrarium,"--US political leaders were hard-pressed to realize the realities of a country quickly crumbling to chaos in the absence of government. Chandrasekaran pointed to the upcoming January provincial elections as an opportunity for Iraqis to direct the development of their country and to regain some of the control they will need to move forward.

The day brought together some of the nation's most passionate and experienced people, working to find the best solution for Iraq and its people. All agreed the humanitarian crisis needs to be at the forefront of the agenda.

As the day came to a close, people boarded their trains and planes back to their busy lives, bringing with them new understanding, new friendships, and a resolve to continue their work for a sustainable, just and peaceful solution in Iraq.

Photo caption: Construction workers in Iraq give the peace sign. USAID.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Latest United Nations Report On Cholera Epidemic

The following commentary originally appeared on Musings On Iraq

On October 20, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its latest report on Iraq’s cholera outbreak. It recorded 531 confirmed cases of cholera. That was up from 479 cases on October 14, and 418 on October 5. The first case was reported on August 7, 2008 in Maysan province. Since then it has spread across 37 districts in 12 of Iraq’s 18 provinces. 56% of the cases have been children under five years old, and half of the eight deaths have been from the same age group.

Most of the cases have been in southern Iraq, but it has spread to northern and western provinces as well. After starting in Maysan, that currently has three cases, and one death, it spread to Baghdad that has 78 cases, one under investigation, and one death. On August 28, the first case was detected in Babil, which has 236 confirmed cases, with fifteen under investigation, and three deaths. As reported earlier, Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council members used expired chlorine to clean the water system there, which is responsible for the higher number of victims in that province. In September Karbala (40 cases), Anbar (8 cases), Diyala (one case), Basra (one death, 50 cases), Najaf (16 cases), Diwaniyah (two deaths, 93 cases), and Wasit (2 cases) were hit. The latest instances have been found in Muthanna (2 cases) and Irbil (2 cases). Those numbers still pale in comparison to the 2007 incident in which over 3,000 Iraqis were affected, and fourteen died.

Spread of Cholera In Iraq

  • Maysan 8/7/08 first case, 1 district affected, 1 death, 3 confirmed cases
  • Baghdad – 8/18/08 first case, 10 districts affected, 1 death, 1 under investigation, 78 confirmed cases, 15% of total
  • Babil – 8/28/08 first case, 4 districts affected, 3 deaths, 15 under investigation, 236 confirmed cases, 44% of total
  • Karbala – 9/5/08 first case, 3 districts affected, 3 under investigation, 40 confirmed cases, 8% of total
  • Anbar – 9/7/08 first case, 2 districts affected, 8 confirmed cases
  • Diyala – 9/9/08 first case, 1 district affected, 1 confirmed case
  • Basra – 9/14/08 first case, 5 districts affected, 1 death, 2 under investigation, 50 confirmed cases, 9% of total
  • Najaf – 9/17/08 first case, 3 districts affected, 5 under investigation, 16 confirmed cases
  • Diwaniyah – 9/20/08 first case, 4 districts affected, 2 deaths, 22 under investigation, 93 confirmed cases, 17% of total
  • Wasit – 9/30/08 first case, 1 district affected, 2 confirmed cases
  • Muthanna – 10/7/08 first case, 1 district affected, 2 confirmed cases
  • Irbil – 10/7/08 first case, 2 districts affected, 2 confirmed cases
IRIN, “Cholera deaths rise to eight as disease spreads,” 10/15/08
- “Over 400 confirmed cholera cases so far,” 10/6/08
- “Two more cholera cases confirmed,” 9/8/08
World Health Organization, “Situation report on diarrhoea and cholera in Iraq, 20 Oct 2008,” 10/20/08

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Babil Province Handover To Iraqis

The following commentary originally appeared in Musings On Iraq

This week the United States turned over control of the southern province of Babil to Iraqi control. It was the 12th of 18 provinces to be handed to the Iraqis. Although Babil is 95% Shiite, because it borders Baghdad to the north and Anbar to the west, Sunni insurgents have been active there. In 2007, the U.S. began organizing tribes into the Sons of Iraq (SOI) there to counter the militants. Babil has also been the scene of political feuds between the Sadrists, Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, and Dawa party. Its proximity to the capitol also made it one of the major supply routes for Iranian weapons into Baghdad. Because of this volatile mix, security in the province is still uneven. Despite this, in the summer the U.S. designated Babil to be the next province to be handed over to the Iraqis.

Babil is a rather small, agricultural province in central Iraq. It has a population of 1,444,400 people, 95% of which are Shiite. The remaining 5% are Sunni. The economy is based upon farming, which is the largest employer in the country, and accounts for 52% of the province’s GDP. Babil has some of the most advanced farming techniques in the country, but there is not enough water to take full advantage of it.

The provincial government is controlled by the Society of Faithful Iraqis, which is a part of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC). The U.S. led Provincial Reconstruction Team has rated their rule from low to average. Political development and reconciliation were given the lowest ranking, beginning, while governance was given a developing rank, the second lowest out of five. In 2007, Babil was second best out of eighteen provinces in its budget execution, spending 49% of its $127 million budget. In the fall of 2008 however, incompetent or corrupt SIIC officials used expired chlorine to clean the province’s water supply that resulted in a large cholera outbreak that is still affecting Babil. Several SIIC members were arrested as a result, but Badr Brigade militia members forced the police to release one of them.

Because it is so close to Baghdad, Babil has received a large number of internally displaced from the capital. This has strained and overwhelmed its services. At the end of July 2008, the Special Inspectors General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) counted 77,914 internally displace residing in the province. At the same time, 102 families, consisting of 18,757 people, have recently returned to the province. Of a survey of 11 families conducted by the International Organization for Migration, 91% were able to go back to their original homes, but 57% found them in bad condition.

Security is still an issue there as well. The SIGIR ranked Babil the 8th most violence province in the country. There is still fighting and bombings in the northern section that neighbors the capital, and in the south. The middle is relatively secure in comparison. On October 20 for example, there was a shoot out between insurgents and local tribal SOI along the border with Anbar that resulted in fifteen deaths. The United States began organizing SOI in the province in the fall of 2007. Today there are over 5,000 fighters organized into 23 groups. Attacks in the province have been cut in half as a result.

Another major conflict in the province is the dispute between the Sadrists, Supreme Islamic Council, and the Dawa. This has played out in a number of ways, both politically and violently. In December 2007, an SIIC backed provincial police chief was appointed after the original one was assassinated in a bombing. Both the Dawa and the Sadrists protested his arrival. During the summer of 2008, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki created a Tribal Support Council there to bolster both his military and political standing in the province. The sheikhs received money from Baghdad, and in return pledged their tribesmen to stand by the government. The SIIC governor protested its formation. In September, an Iraqi army squad supported by Americans raided the SIIC office in the provincial capital Hilla and found missiles and IEDs. With the Sadrists weakened after the government’s crackdowns, that leaves the SIIC and Maliki’s Dawa to battle it out for control of the province before the provincial elections, and all of these moves are part of that process.

The last major actor in the province has been the Iranians and their Special Groups. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Qod Force created two main supply routes for weapons and support to flow into the capital. One was shut down due to the efforts of U.S. and Iraqi forces, leaving the southern route that went from Maysan province to Baghdad along Highway 8. That route takes it through Babil, which became a major way station. During the fighting with the Sadrists in March and April 2008, many local police supported or were passive in the face of the Special Groups, Shiite militants supported by Iran. It is not clear how much of their network was cleared up by the Iraqi forces.

It is into this environment that the U.S. plans to hand over Babil to the government this week. The government and economy are doing well by Iraqi standards. The provincial council has done a relatively good job spending its money, and farming is above average, but the SIIC, who rule the province, still see themselves as above the law. Prime Minister Maliki’s Dawa party is trying to challenge their rule by organizing tribes. On the other hand, the formation of SOIs has greatly improved security, but there is still occasional fighting. There is potential for that to increase as the provincial elections near, but it could also re-arrange the political chairs. That could be a small change from SIIC to Dawa rule, but new parties may also join the council.

Ahmed, Farook and Cochrane, Marisa, “Recent Operations against Special Groups and JAM in Central and Southern Iraq,” Institute for the Study of War, 4/7/08
Ali, Fadhil, “The Mahdi Army: New Tactics for a New Stage,” Terrorism Monitor, Jamestown Foundation, 6/26/08
Alsumaria, “Rows growing between two major Iraqi parties,” 9/18/08
Aswat al-Iraq, “Babel to receive security duties on Thursday,” 10/21/08
Cockburn, Patrick, “Corruption blamed as cholera rips through Iraq,” Independent, 10/10/08
Cordesman, Anthony, “Iraqi Force Development,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, July 2008
Institute for the Study of War, “Fact Sheet on Iraq’s Major Shi’a Political Parties and Militia Groups,” April 2008
International Organization for Migration, “IOM Emergency Needs Assessments,” 10/1/08, “Iraq Papers Wed: Setting Priorities,” 3/11/08
Al Jazeera, “Iraqis clash before Babil handover,” 10/21/08
Katulis, Brian, Juul, Peter, and Moss, Ian, “Awakening to New Dangers in Iraq,” Center for American Progress, February 2008
Lubold, Gordon, “U.S. takes Anbar model to Iraq Shiites,” Christian Science Monitor, 10/2/07
Middle East, “Governorate elections held in Iraq on 31 January 2005”
Raghavan, Sudarsan, “In Iraq, a Perilous Alliance With Former Enemies,” Washington Post, 8/4/07
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 7/30/08
Voices of Iraq, “SIIC denies it had banned arms in Babel office,” 9/29/08
Zavis, Alexandra, “First violence, now drought threatens Iraq farmers,” Los Angeles Times, 6/26/08
- “Iraqi Shiites protest appointment,” Los Angeles Times, 12/25/07

Friday, October 24, 2008

Shiite Rivalries Increasing As Provincial Elections Near

The following commentary originally appeared in Musings On Iraq

The followers of Moqtada al-Sadr are coming under increasing fire. As reported earlier, on October 9, 2008, Sadrist member of parliament Saleh al-Auqaeili was assassinated in a bombing near Sadr City. Sadr’s followers initially blamed the U.S. for the death, which led to a brief clash between the Mahdi Army and Iraqi and U.S. forces, in Baghdad. Later, they blamed criminals gangs, which has usually meant breakaway Sadrist elements or Iranian backed Special Groups. On October 20, Alsumaria TV reported that two suspected culprits were arrested for the assault. They were members of the local electricity directorate, which gave them access to the area that was near an Iraqi army checkpoint, and patrolled by the United States. Iraqi authorities said they came from Sadr City and belonged to an outlaw group.

There are also more reports pointing towards a growing gap between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa party and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC). Together they make up two-thirds of the coalition behind Maliki’s government and are both members of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance (UIA). However, the UIA largely exists in name only as the Dawa and the SIIC are planning on running against each other in the upcoming provincial elections. This increasing divide is being played out in places like Babil, Qadisiyah, Nasiriyah, Maysan provinces, and Baghdad. In June when Maliki sent forces against the Sadrists in Maysan, the security forces tore down posters of SIIC leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. A few months later, the SIIC protested a new police chief sent to Nasiriyah by the Interior Ministry. In late September, an Iraqi Army unit and U.S. forces raided the headquarters of the SIIC’s Badr Brigade in Hilla, the capital of Babil. The SIIC governor claimed they only had AKs for personal defense, but Iraqi forces said they came away with missiles and IEDs. In October, a dinner celebrating the end of Ramadan by the al-Fatla tribe in Qadisiyah was interrupted by SIIC controlled police. The sheikh from the tribe had recently agreed to head the government funded Tribal Support Council. As noted earlier, the councils are an attempt by Maliki to build up his support in the south. The SIIC has condemned their formation. Finally, a draft of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the U.S. and Iraq to maintain a U.S. presence in the country after United Nations authorization expires on December 31, 2008 was passed to government officials. SIIC leader Hakim said his party had kept silent on the issue because if it failed, they wanted the blame to fall on Maliki.

All of these developments are linked to the inter-Shiite struggle for power in the face of upcoming elections. The Sadrists, Maliki’s Dawa, and the Supreme Council, once all allies in the United Alliance, are now rivals. They will all be competing for provincial council seats across the Shiite south and Baghdad. This has led to an up tick in assassinations as in the case of Saleh al-Auqaeili, and increasing political disputes between Maliki and the SIIC. When the elections actually happen, they could lead to the rise of new independent parties and individual politicians, a redistribution of power amongst the Sadrists, SIIC, and Dawa, or violence between them to hold onto or increase their position.

For more on the SIIC-Maliki/Dawa split see:

Maliki Responds To His Critics On Tribal Support Councils

Disputes Over Tribal Support Councils

For more on assassinations of Sadrists see:

Another Sadrist Assassinated

Sadrist Cleric Assassinated In Basra

Alsumaria, “2 perpetrators involved in Sadrist MP assassination arrested,” 10/20/08
Fleishman, Jeffrey, “Shiite fighters clash with Iraqi, U.S. troops in Baghdad,” Los Angeles Times, 10/10/08
Hendawi, Hamza and Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Shiite split could complicate Iraqi efforts to approve security pact with US,” Associated Press, 10/16/08
Klapper, Bradley, “Thousands of al-Sadr supporters mourn lawmaker,” Associated Press, 10/10/08
Levinson, Charles and Nabhan, Ali, “Iraqi tribes caught between rival Shiite parties,” USA Today, 10/20/08
Parker, Sam, “ISCI/Da’wa alliance showing strain,” Abu Muqawama Blog, 9/17/08
Reuters, “U.S. Pact Hits Snag As Iraqi Shi’a Seek Changes,” 10/19/08
Visser, Reidar, “More Tension between the Iraqi Security Forces and the Badr Brigades, This
Time in Hilla,”, 9/29/08
Voices of Iraq, “SIIC denies it had banned arms in Babel office,” 9/29/08

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Baghdad Continues To Encourage Return Of Refugees

The following commentary originall appeared on Musings On Iraq

The Iraqi government is continuing with its policy of encouraging refugees to return from abroad. On October 14, 2008 140 Iraqi families arrived from Syria on a trip organized by Baghdad. They joined 58 families that came back the week before from Jordan, facilitated by the Iraqi embassy there. They are coming at a time when more Iraqis are trying to get back for a variety of reasons. They still constitute only a small portion of the nearly 5 million Iraqis that have been displaced however.

The government has been telling refugees to return home since the end of the summer. In August, 2008, two groups of refugees from Egypt came back to Iraq on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s personal jet. Those were the first returns paid for and organized by Baghdad. This was part of Maliki’s $85 million displaced program announced the same month. In late September, the Iraqi embassy in Amman, Jordan announced that it too would be helping Iraqi refugees in that country return by plane. Those started the next month, and have reached a total of 116 families. In Damascus, Syria, the Iraqi embassy there said they were offering free bus and plane rides back to Iraq in October. The first jet arrived in the second week of that month with 140 families. The government said all of the families were eligible for $850 from the government for coming back, plus $145 for the next six months to help with expenses. A September 2008 survey conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration of 2,102 returning families, found that of the 1,043 that applied for these government payments, only 311 (14.7%) had received any money. Maliki’s office is also promising them their homes and jobs, something that will be hard to provide with underemployment and unemployment ranging anywhere from 20-60%.

This summer did see an increase in Iraqis coming home, but it is still only a small fraction of the total number of refugees. In June 2008 16,338 refugees returned, 20,546 in July, peaking in August at 37,835, and then falling back to 23,821 in September. According to the United Nations, this is an increase from the monthly average coming back from August 2007 to June 2008, which was 11,000. The IOM-Iraqi Displacement and Migration Ministry poll found that 38.58% said they were returning because of improved security. 36.39% stated they were motivated by both better conditions and hardships. It is still not clear whether more Iraqis are coming back or leaving. Either way, the IOM estimates that only 8% of Iraqi refugees have gone back to their homes. These returnees face sporadic attacks, but more importantly lack employment, food, and basic services.

The country still has a long way to go before it can claim light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the refugee problem. Unfortunately the process has been politicized by Prime Minister Maliki to improve the country and his government’s image. He is pushing for Iraqis to return whether conditions are right or not or whether the authorities can assist them. A member of the Displaced and Migration committee in parliament claimed that the Prime Minister wants to be done with the matter by the end of 2008, highlighting the lack of any long-term planning to help the displaced. It will take a lot longer than that to cure the plight of almost five million refugees.

Adas, Basil, “UN-Iraq dispute over refugees returning home,” Gulf News, 10/10/08
Aji, Albert, “140 Iraqi refugees in Syria head home,” Associated Press, 10/15/08
- “Iraq offers free returns for its Syrian refugees,” Associated Press, 10/8/08
Alsumaria, “Iraqi refugees return home from Egypt,” 8/18/08
- “Tens of Iraqi displaced families return home,” 8/12/08
Aswat al-Iraq, “Iraq receives 58 returnees from Jordan,” 10/12/08
Cohen, Robert, “Iraq’s Displaced: Where To Turn?” American University International Law Review, Fall 2008
Cordesman, Anthony, “Transferring Provinces To Iraqi Control: The Reality And The Risks,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 9/2/08
Dagher, Sam, “Schools Open, and First Test Is Iraqi Safety,” New York Times, 10/12/08
Fadel, Leila, “Displaced Iraqis, now told to go home, fear for their lives,” McClatchy Newspapers, 10/5/08
IRIN, “Plane-load of Iraqis due to be repatriated this week,” 9/29/08
Ministry of Displacement and Migration & International Organization for Migration, “Returnee Monitoring and Needs Assessments Tabulation Report,” September 2008
Reilly, Corinne, “Iraqis are being attacked and killed for returning to their homes,” McClatchy Newspapers, 10/13/08
Sinan, Omar and Yacoub, Sameer, “Iraqi leader gives refugees free flight home,” Associated Press, 8/11/08

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Maliki Wants Provincial Elections By The End Of The Year

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has let it be known that he wants provincial elections that are currently scheduled for January 2009, to happen by the end of 2008 instead. The Prime Minister recently made statements that the government will be asking for the balloting to happen as soon as possible. He will be talking to the High Election Commission to push the timetable forward, while making sure the voting will be free and fair. This seems a rash decision as neither the Commission, nor the country seems ready for early voting.

Prime Minister Maliki’s statements come before the election process has even been finalized. Parliament passed the election law on September 24, 2008, and it was ratified by the Presidential Council on October 8. It sets aside 25% of provincial council seats for women, while dropping a similar quota for Christians, Yazidis and Shabeks in six provinces. A committee is suppose to deliberate on how to deal with this issue. The Election Commission said they would try, but could not guarantee voting by January 31, 2009. They have not received a list of all the candidates yet, and still need to hire 300,000 election officials to watch the polls. Those are just the technical issues that need to be addressed.

Then there is the more difficult political and security situation in the country. General Ray Odierno, the new commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, the new head at Central Command, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the new National Intelligence Estimate have all said that the situation within Iraq is tenuous. They are all worried about the possible outcomes and affects of the election, especially if it leads to new violence. That might already be happening.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have noted an increase in targeted assassinations in recent weeks. The two new weapons of choice are magnetic car bombs and pistols with silencers. A Karbala city council member for example, was recently killed by one such car bomb. From July to August 2008, ten people were assassinated with pistols each month in Baghdad. One of the favorite targets have been Sadrists. Since the middle of September, eight Interior Ministry officials were also killed or wounded in these types of attacks as well. On the positive side, 112 suspected pistol men have been arrested.

Real and imagined violence has also sent a chill through women and minorities. The Associated Press reported that many women that were thinking of running for office have been intimidated by the new voting rules. During the 2005 elections, candidates were only identified by numbers or parties. Under the new election law, they have to list their names. This raises the fear of being attacked since their identities will be known. As reported earlier, Christians, who lost their quota under the voting legislation, are coming under attack in the northern city of Mosul right now, which is causing thousands to flee.

It is within this environment that Maliki is calling for early voting. There is still violence in Iraq, some of which is aimed directly at intimidating voters, officials, and the candidates. That is unlikely to end anytime soon. More importantly, the final election process has not be set, and the Election Committee is not even sure it can carry out the vote by the end of January 2009, let along the end of 2008. In recent months the Prime Minister has pushed for a whole slew of policies that are aimed at improving his position in the country. His plans for elections by December 2008 seem part of this. Holding elections this year appears to be an ill advised decision aimed more at show than substance. It would be better if the vote is held when officials and parties are ready, rather than at the whim of the Prime Minister.

For more on Iraq’s provincial elections see:

Election Law Passed, Now To Get People To Vote

Iraq’s Displaced Not Exciting About Election

Iraq’s New Voting System

Who Rules Iraq’s Provinces And How Are They Doing?

Fadel, Leila, “Assassinations replacing car bombs in Iraq,” McClatchy Newspapers, 10/9/08
- “Iraqi provincial elections likely to be held early next year,” McClatchy Newspapers, 10/8/08
Gamel, Kim, “Iraqi women fear going public as candidates,” Associated Press, 10/6/08
Goode, Erica, “Iraq Passes Provincial Elections Law,” New York Times, 9/25/08
Goode, Erica and Farrell, Stephen, “Iraqis Unite to Restore Minority Representation Law,” New York Times, 10/7/08
LaFranchi, Howard, “US more cautious in Iraq appraisals,” Christian Science Monitor, 10/16/08
Reuters, “Iraq strives for provincial vote this year,” 10/14/08

As Journalists Pull Out From Iraq, Who Will Report From the Front Lines?

Tina Susman, Baghdad Bureau, Los Angeles TimesIn September 2007, the U.S. military embedded 219 journalists in Iraq. A year later that number dropped to just 39 journalists. Of the dozen major newspapers and Western media outlets that once maintained full-time bureaus in Baghdad, only four remain permanently staffed. As media funding and journalists are pulled from Iraq, concerns have been raised about the availability and accuracy of reports from inside Iraq.

“Stories about violence get top billing,” said General David G. Perkin, the top military spokesman in Iraq. “Less-sensational events, such as a recent voter-registration drive for the highly anticipated provincial elections expected early next year, go largely uncovered in the Western news media.”

But even the violent stories are difficult to come by these days. Due to military reluctance, journalists are increasingly blocked from reporting on the front lines.

America media that still maintain bureaus in Iraq include:

The Washington Post
New York Times
Los Angeles Times
National Public Radio
Fox News

Foreign correspondents Ernesto LondoƱo and Amit Paley of the Washington Post report: “The U.S. military officials acknowledge that they are not eager to showcase American military-led combat operations at time when the Iraqi government is calling for a more limited role for U.S. troops and pushing firm withdrawal timelines.”

While many media outlets have left altogether, those remaining have been subject to downsizing. Baghdad Bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, Tina Susman, has witnessed her paper recently drop from three to two foreign correspondents.

“[It’s] dispiriting,” she said. “How do media bosses, especially the American ones, justify not maintaining a presence in a country where there are 145,000 U.S. forces and where 4,100 have died?”

Photo caption: Tina Susman of the Los Angeles Times Baghdad Bureau. From the Frontline.

U.N. Experts Address the Challenges of Resettling Iraqi Refugees and IDPs

Radhouane Nouicer refutes media accusations of inflated Iraqi refugee statistics in an informative presentation at the 2008 Iraq Action Days Forum. The Director of Bureau for Middle East North Africa at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) challenges the audience to ignore the number nitpicking. As an alternative, he urges them to focus on the mass suffering of Iraqis whose acknowledgment by the global community is at “risk to go into a long shadow.”

Panel 2 Part 1 (37:29) from Sarah Shannon on Vimeo.

Following Mr. Nouicer’s presentation, Dana Graber Ladek, a specialist on Iraq displacement for the International Organization for Migration in Amman, Jordan, elaborates on “the worst refugee crisis since 1948.” Dana Graber Ladek explains, increased security, expended finances, visa restrictions, and lack of employment, have prompted between 80,000 and 100,000 Iraqis to attempt return to the homes they fled. Dana Graber Ladek addresses many of the pressing needs of the resettled Iraqis, most who have merely shifted status from refugees to internally displaced persons (IDP’s).

Panel 2 Part 2 (31:09) from Sarah Shannon on Vimeo.

“Why resettlement?” is the question raised by the 3rd panel speaker Bob Carey of the International Rescue Committee. Carey emphasizes that the U.S. humanitarian legacy is under threat due to a significant decline in resettlement privileges granted to refugees in the United States. Quotas for Iraqi refugee resettlement within the U.S. are grossly unmet. Carey also raises questions about refugees once they are resettled. How will the physical and psychological medical needs of resettled Iraqis be met? How can resettled refugees be assured jobs? What can the American public do to aid in a smooth relocation for Iraqis?

To hear the panelists answer questions from the audience click here Q&A

SPECIAL NOTE: Bob Carey of the International Rescue Committee is among the many distinguished panelists who will be presenting this Friday at the IRAQ AT THE CROSSROADS symposium at Rutgers School of Law-Newark.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

EPIC to Join Groups Working to Alleviate Crisis at Friday's National Symposium

THIS FRIDAY at Rutgers School of Law in Newark, NJ, EPIC supporters will join Iraq War veteran Kevin Murphy for IRAQ AT THE CROSSROADS. Coming less than two weeks before the Presidential election, this important national gathering will explore one of the greatest humanitarian challenges to be faced by the next President of the United States.

IRAQ AT THE CROSSROADS: Protecting Refugees, Rescuing Our Allies, and Empowering Iraqi Law
A National Symposium at Rutgers School of Law, Newark, NJ
October 24th, 2008 (Friday) 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Register online via

EPIC is proud to announce that National Editor of The Washington Post, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, will deliver the opening keynote address. Speakers will also include Emily Gish of Mercy Corps, Bob Carey of International Rescue Committee, Sam Parker of the U.S. Institute of Peace, Rep. Bill Pascrell, Hilary Ingraham of the U.S. State Department, and others.

Monday, October 20, 2008

International Organization for Migration Monthly Report on Iraq’s Displaced

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently released its monthly report on the status of Iraq’s internally displaced. The IOM found that the government is trying to get Iraq’s approximately five million refugees to return to their homes. It has appropriated 250 billion dinars for the program. On September 1, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the first phase when he issued Order 101 that said all squatters had to vacate their premises or face legal consequences. Those that left would be eligible for 300,000 dinars ($250) per month for six months to find another home. Order 101 also set up refugee centers in Baghdad to facilitate the return of families. The government hopes to expand these offices across the country eventually. Those refugees that do return can apply for one million dinars ($850) from the government. As of September 21, 16,782 families, 100,692 people, had come back to Baghdad, and 11,986 families have gone back to other areas of the country. 8,691 families for example, have gone back to Anbar and Diyala. 92% of those that have returned were internally displaced. Their motivations vary from improved security, to hardships, to evictions. Still, only around 3% of Iraq’s refugees have returned so far. The vast majority that remain displaced are facing problems with employment, water, food, jobs, etc., and need assistance. Iraq’s drought has also caused brand new displacements.

While the report offers no commentary on the IOM’s opinion of the government’s plans, many others have criticized it. The Committee on Displacement and Migration in parliament, for example, has consistently questioned the government, recently saying that the return plan is just a public relations ploy to improve the image of Baghdad. The United Nations’ refugee agency has also said that it does not believe it is time for Iraqis to return, but it will assist those that are voluntarily coming back.

The rest of the report gives a province-by-province break down of the status of Iraq’s displaced. It is based upon surveys of 201,348 families, 1,208,088 people. Here are the results.


Displaced Origins
  • Baghdad 63.7%
  • Diyala 19.0%
  • Ninewa 5.5%
  • Salahaddin 3.1%
  • Anbar 2.8%
  • Tamim 2.8%
  • Basra 1.7%
  • Babil 0.9%
  • Wasit 0.2%
  • Irbil 0.2%
  • Dhi Qar 0.1%

  • Shiite Arab 56.6%
  • Sunni Arab 31.0%
  • Sunni Kurd 3.7%
  • Assyrian Christian 3.0%
  • Chaldean Christian 1.9%
  • Shiite Turkmen 1.3%
  • Sunni Turkmen 1.0%
  • Shiite Kurd 0.7%
  • Armenian Christian 0.1%
  • Yazidi Arab 0.1%
  • Yazidi Kurd 0.1%

Have any family members been detained?
  • Iraq 3.5% yes, 96.% yes
  • Anbar 2.5% yes, 97.6% no
  • Babil 2.8% yes, 97.2% no
  • Baghdad 2.8%, 97.2% no
  • Basra 1.2% yes, 98.9% no
  • Dahuk, 0.2% yes, 99.8% no
  • Dhi Qar 5.1% yes, 94.9% no
  • Diyala 5.8% yes, 94.2% no
  • Irbil 0.1% yes, 99.95 no
  • Karbala 7.1% yes, 92.9% no
  • Muthanna 9.4% yes, 90.6% no
  • Najaf 3.9% yes, 96.1% no
  • Ninewa 2.3% yes, 97.7% no
  • Qadisiyah 0% yes, 100% no
  • Salahaddin 2.0% yes, 98.0% no
  • Sulaymaniya 0.7% yes, 99.3% no
  • Tamim 8.9% yes, 91.1% no
  • Wasit 8.6% yes, 91.4% no

Are there any missing family members?
  • Iraq 6.8% yes, 93.2% no
  • Anbar 0.9% yes, 99.1% no
  • Babil 3.2% yes, 96.8% no
  • Baghdad 2.8% yes, 97.2% no
  • Basra 2.0% yes, 98.0% no
  • Dahuk 2.2% yes, 97.8% no
  • Dhi Qar 16.1% yes, 83.9% no
  • Diyala 18.3% yes, 81.7% no
  • Irbil 1.6% yes, 98.4% no
  • Karbala 25.2% yes, 74.8% no
  • Maysan 3.7% yes, 96.4% no
  • Muthanna 6.3% yes, 93.7% no
  • Najaf 4.0% yes, 96.0% no
  • Ninewa 7.2% yes, 92.8% no
  • Qadisiyah 0.0% yes, 100% no
  • Salahaddin 3.4% yes, 96.6% no
  • Sulaymaniya 1.5% yes, 98.5% no
  • Tamim 24.2% yes, 75.8% no
  • Wasit 0.3% yes, 99.7% no


Anbar: Security remains tense in Anbar. The Health Director of the province is telling people to boil their water to stave off cholera. 50 displaced families from Arduma live outside of Fallujah due to the drought. They are living in tents, and need food, water, and permanent housing. 3,087 families have returned to the province as well. Most say they came back because they were running out of money and pressure from the government to leave where they were. The Ministry of Displacement and Migration has started giving out the one million dinars to returnees in Anbar. Most have gone to Baghdad to apply for the payments.

Study of 8,623 families
Origins: 76.9% Baghdad, 15.7% Anbar, 6.7% Basra, 0.5% Diyala, 0.1% Babil, 0.1% Salahaddin
Sect: 98.7% Sunni Arab, 1.0% Shiite Arab

Babil: Security is uneven across the province. There is still fighting in the north and south, while the middle is secure. Twenty displaced families from Baghdad are squatting on government land in al Tahmaziyah in al Musayab district. They are living in mud houses and the government has told them they have to leave. They have nowhere else to go. 74 families in al Rawajeh and al Dedam villages only have drinking water from a local river.

Study of 10,357 families
Origins: 81.2% Baghdad, 6.2% Babil, 6.1% Diyala, 2.4% Salahaddin, 2.1% Anbar, 1.0% Wasit, 0.9% Tamim, 0.1% Ninewa,
Sect: 94.4% Shiite Arab, 5.4% Sunni Arab, 0.1% Yazidi Arab

Baghdad: Security is unstable in Baghdad. After bombings in the Karada and Jadria districts in mid-September 2008, the Interior Ministry said all squatters had to leave the area. The police are conducting the removals. More families are also coming back to Baghdad. As of September 21, 2008, 16,782 families had returned. The Ministry of Displacement and Migration is operating return centers in the capitol. Many returnees say they are coming back because of improved security. There have been some incidents however, such as a family being killed in the Jihad district. In Abu Ghraib, just outside of Baghdad, the local government and community leaders are working with the Ministry of Transportation to help 57 families come back to the Zytoon village. The Baghdad Operations Center is also assisting 107 families to come back to the Hurriya area of the capitol. Many returnees are still facing problems. In Rusafa, squatters might be evicted and have nowhere to go. They have protested in front of the Green Zone to try to stop being removed.

Study of 61,913 families
Origin: 82.6% Baghdad, 14.3% Diyala, 1.6% Anbar, 0.8% Salahaddin, 0.3% Tamim, 0.2% Ninewa, 0.1% Babil
Sect: 70.7% Shiite Arab, 29.1% Sunni Arab, 0.1% Shiite Kurd

Basra: There are still security issues in Basra. Five displaced families living in Door al-Nafut area are facing evictions. They have no money to go anywhere else. The water quality is poor throughout the province.

Study of 4,956 families
Origin: 51.8% Baghad, 26.3% Salahaddin, 8.2% nbar, 6.4% Diyala, 4.1% Tamim, 2.0% Babil, 0.7% Basra, 0.3% Wasit, 0.2% Ninewa
Sect: 99.8% Shiite Arab, 0.1% Sunni Arab

Dahuk: Security is good in Dahuk. Many displaced living in Dahuk city have sold their belongings in order to pay their bills. Those that have run out of money are working illegal jobs. Some women have even become prostitutes. Some have been robbed as well. There is little coordination between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad over refugees.

Study of 3,576 families
Origin: 54.1% Baghdad, 44.3% Ninewa, 0.6% Tamim, 0.5% Basra, 0.3% Anbar, 0.1% Salahaddin, 0.1% Muthanna
Sect: 40.9% Sunni Kurd, 27.7% Chaladean Christian, 19.0% Assyrian Christian, 3.3% Armenia Christian, 2.2% Sunni Arab, 2.2% Yazidi Kurd, 2.0% Shiite Arab, 0.7% Shiite Turkmen, 0.3% Sunni Turkmen, 0.3% Shiite Kurd, 0.2% Christian Kurd

Dhi Qar: Security is good in Dhi Qar. It is hard for displaced to find jobs there. Displaced children in Al Ewnees have been dropping out of school.

Study of 6,441 families
Origin: 67.8% Baghdad, 13.4% Salahaddin, 8.5% Diyala, 3.4% Anbar, 2.9% Tamim, 2.6% Babil, 1.2% Wasit, 0.2% Muthanna, 0.1% Ninewa
Sect: 99.5% Shiite Arab, 0.3% Yazidi Arab, 0.1% Sunni Arab

Diyala: Security has improved because of the security operation there, but it is still dangerous. Displaced in Gatoon fear they will be attacked. Some families came back before the military operation in Diyala, but many more have returned since then. 5,604 families have come back so far, 1,900 of which returned before the military offensive. Returnees are short of food, and many have found that their homes have been robbed or destroyed while they were away. The drought is also affecting the province. Al Tahrir and al Qadoon areas of Baquba have reported threats against returnees. Some have been killed in the Ha al-Mualemeen area of Baquba. Returnees in Hay al-Bayader have not been able to transfer their food rations to there, so they are short on food. Some have not gotten the government money for returnees because they haven’t registered over security concerns.

Study of 14,361 families
Origin: 83.8% Diyala, 15.5% Baghdad, 0.2% Anbar, 0.2% Tamim, 0.1% Salahaddin, 0.1% Babil
Sect: 58.1% Sunni Arab, 32.6% Shiite Arab, 6.4% Shiite Kurd, 1.9% Sunni Kurd, 0.6% Shiite Turkmen, 0.5% Turkmen

Irbil: Security is good in Irbil. Families are leaving the province to go back to their homes. Fifteen families left the Mamostayan area for Baghdad and Ninewa. Twelve families departed the Polistan area for Baghdad from January to March 2008. During the same time period, ten families left Balashawa for Baghdad. Many displaced families from Ninewa that are in Irbil go back to their home province to pick up their food rations. Families from Baghdad on the other hand, have transferred their food rations to Irbil. There is a general lack of electricity for the displaced and Kurds in the province.

Study of 5,138 families
Origin: 46.71% Baghdad, 45.52% Ninewa, 2.51% Tamim, 2.18% Diyala, 0.97% Anbar,0.66% Salahaddin, 0.25 Basra, 0.19% Irbil, 0.08% Qadisiyah, 0.08% Muthann, 0.08% Babil, 0.06% Karbala, 0.04% Najaf
Sect: 39.2% Sunni Kurd, 28.4% Sunni Arab, 19.4% Chaldean Christian, 4.9% Assyrian Chrstian, 2.0% Christian, 1.4% Shiite Arab, 0.9% Armenian Christian, 0.5% Sunni Turkmen, 0.2% Christian Kurd, 0.1% Sabean Mandean Arab, 0.1% Christian Arab

Karbala: Security is stable in Karbala. The medical clinics in Ain al Tamer are charged with corruption, selling drugs illegally. There is also a problem with contaminated water throughout the province.

Study of 12,569 families
Origin: 58.5% Baghdad, 26.3% Diyala, 7.2% Anbar, 2.7% Ninewa, 2.5% Babil, 1.5% Salahaddin, 1.4% Tamim, 0.1% Karbala
Sect: 98.5% Shiite Arab, 1.1% Shiite Turkmen, 0.3% Yazidi Arab

Maysan: Security is stable in Maysan. 152 families fled to al Kahla district because of violence. They lack clean water, sanitation, and jobs. 27 displaced families from Diyala that fled violence to live in al Haydaria village now live in mud houses without water, and are also facing food shortages. There are twelve displaced families from Wasit living in Al Jamsha village, who are squatting on tribal land.

Study of 6,573 families
Origin: 82.8% Baghdad, 7.7% Diyala, 5.7% Salahaddin, 1.5% Tamim, 1.0% Anbar, 0.5% Wasit, 0.3% Babil, 0.2% Basra, 0.2% Ninewa
Sect: 99.9% Shiite Arab, 0.1% Sabean Mandean Arab

Muthanna: Security is good in Muthanna. The Sader, Hakam, Mahdy, and Shuhada areas all lack clean water. Those same areas are also short of electricity, which can be off for up to fifteen hours a day. 20 displaced families in al Hema lack food, water, jobs, and are suffering from diseases and illnesses.

Study of 2,788 families
Origin: 71.6% Baghdad, 13.5% Diyala, 7.5% Anbar, 2.3% Babil, 2.0% Salahaddin, 1.2% Ninewa, 1.2% Wasit, 0.6% Qadisiyah, 0.2% Irbil
Sect: 99.5% Shiite Arab

Najaf: Security is good in Najaf. The displaced are facing evictions because rents are going up. 33 displaced families in al Zahra are suffering from sicknesses. 17 families in Tuber al-Ibraheem have no water and electricity.

Study of 6,109 families
Origin: 84.8% Baghdad, 7.1% Diyala, 2.6% Ninewa, 2.1% Anbar, 1.4% Tamim, 1.2% Salahaddin, 0.8% Babil
Sect: 97.8% Shiite Arab, 1.3% Shiite Turkmen, 0.8% Arab Christian, 0.1% Shiite Kurd

Ninewa: The Kurds and the central government are still arguing over Ninewa. Mosul remains dangerous. Al Sahiroon in Mosul has six displaced families that have fled violence, but are now facing high rents. Nine displaced families are living in al Koeer. Displaced families live in mud huts in the Khothor Illian and al Sahaji villages.

Study of 12,228 families
Origin: 50.8% Baghdad, 38.6% Ninewa, 6.5% Basra, 1.1% Diyala, 0.9% Tamim, 0.6% Salahaddin, 0.6% Anbar, 0.5% Babil, 0.2% Wasit, 0.1% Qadisiyah, 0.1% Dhi Qar
Sect: 37.6% Assyrian Christian, 26.5% Sunni Arab, 12.8% Chaldean Christian, 12.4% Sunni Turkmen, 3.6% Sunni Kurd, 2.2% Shiite Turkmen, 0.8% Shiite Arab, 0.3% Yazidi Arab, 0.2% Christian Armenian, 0.2% Yazidid Kurd

Qadisiyah: After military operations in Qadisiyah in July security has improved. Sixteen displaced families in al Jazeir are facing evictions because they are squatting on government land. Displaced families in Hay al-Sadr are living in poor housing.

Study of 3,442 families
Origin: 81.4% Baghdad, 6.5% Diyala, 4.6% Anbar, 3.0% Salahadin, 2.4% Tamim, 1.7% Babil, 0.3% Wasit, 0.1% Ninewa
Sect: 100% Shiite Arab

Salahaddin: There is occasional violence in Salahaddin. 607 displaced families are squatting on government land near Tikrit University. 150 displaced families living in Julam al-Bariyyah lack water. Local farmers are also running out of water because of the drought.

Study of 14,916 families
Origin: 49.4% Baghdad, 15.4% Tamim, 12.8% Basra, 9.6% Diyala, 5.5% Salahaddin, 1.9% Ninewa, 1.8% Anbar, 1.3% Irbil, 0.8% Wasit, 0.7% Dhi Qar, 0.6% Babil, 0.1% Qadisiyah, 0.1% Karbala
Sect: 96.4% Sunni Arab, 2.2% Shiite Arab, 0.8% Shiite Turkmen, 0.4% Sunni Kurd, 0.1% Sunni Turkmen

Sulamaniyah: Security is good in Sulamaniyah. 31 displaced families have left the province to go back to Baghdad. 76 families wanted to go back to Baghdad, Diyala, and Ninewa, but changed their minds because they didn’t think it was safe enough. 120 families from Qalawa camp have gone back to their homes. The remainder do not want to go back because of security concerns. The government has offered to set up a camp for them in Bazyan, but they do not want to move.

Study of 5,408 families
Origin: 46.5% Diyala, 45.6% Baghdad, 2.9% Anbar, 1.9% Ninewa, 0.9% Salahaddin, 0.6% Tamim, 0.5% Basra, 0.4% Babil, 0.2% Wasit, 0.1% Dhi Qar, 0.1% Sulamaniyah, 0.1% Karbala
Sect: 62.8% Sunni Arab, 22.5% Sunni Kurd, 10.4% Shiite Arab, 2.6% Shiite Kurd, 0.4% Yazidi Kurd, 0.3% Sabean Mandean Arab, 0.3% Sunni Turkmen, 0.2% Chaldean Christian, 0.1% Christian Arab, 0.1% Christian Assyrian

Tamim: Security has improved in Tamim, but it is still an issue. Most of the violence there is based upon ethnicity. Displaced families have been attacked in al Multaka and al Hawiga. Six girls were also kidnapped and raped. 76 Kurdish families were forced out of al Hawiga, and are now squatting in the Koli neighborhood of Dibis. They can’t go back because militants control their homes, and they can’t find work either. 85 Kurdish families displaced from al Hawiga now live in the Qadisiyah area, and are squatting on government land. The al Qadisiyah and Benja Ali areas are lacking health care.

Study of 9,628 families
Origin: 27.5% Diyala, 18.7% Tamim, 17.5% Baghdad, 15.4% Salahaddin, 15.2% Ninea, 4.1% Anbar, 1.0% Irbil, 0.2% Basra, 0.2% Sulamaniyah, 0.1% Babil
Sect: 49.21% Sunni Arab, 21.49% Sunni Kurd, 18.13% Shiite Turkomen, 3.25% Sunni Turkmen, 3.11% Shiite Arab, 1.62% Assyrian Christian, 1.36% Shiite Kurd, 0.57% Chaldean Christian, 0.2%, 0.03% Christian Turkmen

Wasit: Security is good in Wasit. 100 displaced families have left the province for their homes. Other displaced are squatting in al Joba village on government land in mud houses. They have been told they have to leave.

Study of 12,404 families
Origin: 64.9% Baghdad, 32.9% Diyala, 1.0% babil, 0.5% Tamim, 0.4% Anbar, 0.2% Salahaddin, 0.1% Basra
Sect: 99.9% Shiite Arab, 0.15 Sunni Arab

Adas, Basil, “More than 11,000 displaced families return to Baghdad,” Gulf News, 8/4/08
Fadel, Leila, “Displaced Iraqis, now told to go home, fear for their lives,” McClatchy Newspapers, 10/5/08
International Crisis Group, “Failed Responsibility: Iraqi Refugees In Syria, Jordan and Lebanon,” 7/10/08
International Organization for Migration, “IOM Emergency Needs Assessments,” 10/1/08
IRIN, “Plane-load of Iraqis due to be repatriated this week,” 9/29/08
Ministry of Displacement and Migration & International Organization for Migration, “Returnee Monitoring and Needs Assessments Tabulation Report,” September 2008
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