With violence down and U.S. troop deaths at their lowest point since the Iraq war began, military analysts are in near-agreement that Iraq is more secure today. But CFR's Stephen Biddle and Steven Simon disagree on how to ensure stability continues. They discuss their views during this inaugural Foreign Affairs Live debate.
In August 2008, violence re-erupted in Congo's North Kivu province. This multimedia presentation brought to you by the International Crisis Group highlights the most recent developments in the region, and provides background to the current crisis.
Authors: Stephen Biddle, Michael E. O'Hanlon, and Kenneth M. Pollack New York Times
“Having recently returned from a research trip to Iraq, we are convinced that a total withdrawal of combat troops any time soon would be unwise,” write Stephen Biddle, Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack. Although recent success in Iraq has prompted more calls for withdrawal, a continued American presence is needed to preserve the fragile peace in that country.
Max Boot writes that Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki’s ambiguous statements about a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq are an attempt at political posturing before the upcoming presidential elections.
Congressional delegations can be illuminating despite the obvious limitations imposed by time and security concerns, writes Daniel Senor, giving Barack Obama a list of people he ought to meet on his upcoming trip to Iraq.
Iran’s goals of building a mutually beneficial relationship with Iraq and of undermining the American occupation are at odds with each other, writes Vali Nasr. These conflicting objectives have resulted in Tehran’s first major setback in Iraq.
“For every two steps forward in Iraq, there is also a step backward,” says Max Boot, referring to the faltering negotiations between the U.S. and Iraqi governments over the conditions of the United States’ continued presence in Iraq. Sticking points include whether U.S. soldiers and private security contractors will maintain immunity from Iraqi prosecution, and whether the U.S. will continue to have the freedom to detain terrorist suspects without Iraqi approval.
Mohamad Bazzi criticizes the Bush Administration’s “flawed understanding of basic forces in the Middle East,” by pointing out his inaccurate grouping of Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah in his speech to the Israeli Knesset. This is not the first time the President has made this mistake, says Bazzi. In his January 2007 State of the Union, he lumped Sunni and Shiite extremists as the same “totalitarian threat” with the “same wicked purposes.”
This report examines Muqtada al Sadr’s unilateral ceasefire in August 2007 and its effects on Iraqi security. Clashes between Sadr supporters and other Shiite militias broke out following the end of the ceasefire in February 2008. The International Crisis Group also makes recommendations for the future for the primary actors in the conflict.
Vali R. Nasr, a leading expert on Shiites, says the fighting in southern Iraq amounts to a power struggle between pro and anti-U.S. Shiite militias. The country’s Shiite prime minister, he says, is “irrelevant.”
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