IRAQ: Christian Peacemaker Teams report challenges U.S. reading of Iraq situation

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CPTnet
2 September 2010
IRAQ:  Christian
Peacemaker Teams report challenges U.S. reading of Iraq situation

Suleimaniya, Iraq—The future of Iraq is more complex and uncertain than the
current U.S. narrative claims, according to a report just published by
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Iraq (see 
<https://www.cpt.org/files/CPT_Report_Iraq_after_Occupation.pdf>.)

The report quotes Iraqis who express doubt on the effects of the U.S. military “surge,”
the trustworthiness of the Iraqi military, and the reliability of Iraqi public
figures and institutions.

“Iraqis in this report challenge the simplistic success story that the U.S. is
telling about Iraq,” says CPTer Marius van Hoogstraten.

The report, entitled “Iraq after the Occupation – Iraqis speak about the state
of their country as the U.S. military withdraws,” is based on extensive
interviews with Iraqi citizens in various parts of the country.  It recommends that the U.S. “think
creatively” about ways to support Iraqi society before the U.S. military
withdraws entirely at the end of 2011.

The U.S., which invaded and occupied Iraq in 2003, recently announced an “end
of combat missions,” in preparation for a complete withdrawal from the country
by the end of 2011.  The report
notes that no consensus exists among Iraqis on the future of their country,
with some interviewees expecting the security situation to get much worse,
while others are more optimistic.  However,
none expect Iraq to be independent after a complete U.S. withdrawal.  “I do not think the American army came
all this way, spent all this money to leave [Iraq] a prey to others,” one
Baghdad resident said in an interview.

Although the report confirms an improved security situation over the last few
years, it questions the contribution of the “surge,” i.e. the deployment of
U.S. military reinforcements in 2007.  About half of those interviewed pointed instead to the U.S.
withdrawal from Iraqi cities in 2009 as the major contributor to the improved
security situation. 

Many respondents see the increased skill and capacity of the Iraqi security
forces as a positive factor, although a majority maintains concerns about their
trustworthiness and independence.  Another Baghdad resident spoke of the Iraqi security forces’
lack of “educational aspects in the field of human rights and loyalty to the
homeland.”

Respondents also express serious concerns about the credibility of Iraqi
politicians, the “abominable state of public services” and the economy, and
corruption.  “The obscene opulence
of some—and especially those on the payroll of political interests—is
excessive,” says one interviewee in the report, “while the rate of wretched
poverty in Iraq continues to pose a humanitarian problem.”

Tensions among ethnic and religious groups continue to threaten the country’s
stability.  Many respondents also
fear interference by neighboring states, particularly Iran.

In its conclusion, CPT Iraq stipulates that in the waning days of U.S. military
presence in Iraq, the U.S. should focus on the Iraqi economy, reconciliation
efforts, and a culture of accountability in the Iraqi security forces.  CPT stresses that the U.S. must also
respect Iraqi democratic sovereignty.  “There’s a lot that needs to be done that only Iraqis can do,” notes
van Hoogstraten.

For more information contact:
Chih-Chun Yuan in Iraq +964-770-769-7081

Doug Pritchard, CPT Canada office +1-416-423-5525 or mobile +1-647-297-7079

Marius van Hoogstraten in Germany +49-16-2466-1239

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