Christian Peacemaker Teams report challenges US reading of Iraq

By agency reporter
September 1, 2010

The future of Iraq is more complex and uncertain than the current US narrative seeks to present, according to a report published today by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Iraq.

The report quotes Iraqis who shed doubt on the effects of the '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 US is telling about Iraq,” says Marius van Hoogstraten of CPT Iraq.

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

The United States, 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 there is no consensus on the future of Iraq, 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 US withdrawal. “I don't think the American army came all this way, spent all this money, then to leave [Iraq] a prey to others,” one Baghdad resident is quoted as saying.

Although the report confirms an improved security situation over the last few years, it questions the contribution of the 'surge,' - that is, the deployment of US military reinforcements in 2007.

About half of those interviewed pointed instead to the US 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 quoted is worried about a lack of “educational aspects in the field of human rights and loyalty to the homeland” in the Iraqi security forces.

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 neighbouring states, particularly Iran.

In its conclusion, Christian Peacemaker Teams Iraq makes clear recommendations. “In its waning days in Iraq, the US should prioritise the Iraqi economy, reconciliation efforts, and a culture of accountability in the Iraqi security forces,” says Van Hoogstraten, stressing also the necessity of US respect for Iraqi democratic sovereignty.

“There's a lot that needs to be done that only Iraqis can do,” the report concludes.

Read the full report here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/13008


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