The Blog

Iraq's Benchmarks

Who's Moving the goalposts now?

12:00 AM, Apr 3, 2008 • By FREDERICK W. KAGAN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions.
This was never desirable. The Kurdish Regional Government, however, is up and running, and a law has been passed that would allow provinces to form regions after April 2008. We can fairly say that this is moving ahead while hoping that it does not happen.

Enacting and implementing legislation establishing an Independent High Electoral Commission, provincial elections law, provincial council authorities, and a date for provincial elections.
Not done
Passed by CoR on February 13, 2008; vetoed by Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi on February 26, 2008; veto withdrawn and law approved by Presidency Council on March 19, 2008. Provincial powers law set October 1, 2008 as date for elections; Presidency Council has reiterated support for that date; United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq announced on February 14, 2008, a new procedure for selecting key elections officials; that procedure was set in motion on February 21, 2008.

Enacting and implementing legislation addressing amnesty.
Not done
Passed by CoR on February 13, 2008; signed by Presidency Council on February 26, 2008.

Enacting and implementing legislation establishing a strong militia disarmament program to ensure that such security forces are accountable only to the central government and loyal to the constitution of Iraq.
Not done
Laws have been passed and decrees have been issued declaring that only the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are legitimate armed forces. The movement of former insurgents into Concerned Local Citizens groups is a major part of accomplishing this task. Moqtada al Sadr's ceasefire (extended for another six months) is another element of it. Maliki's recent push to disarm Sadrist militias in Basra and elsewhere is evidence of the Iraqi Government's determination to accomplish this goal, even if it is not yet capable of doing so.

Forming a Constitutional Review Committee and then completing the constitutional review.
Not done
CoR formed a Constitutional Review Committee in September 2006. It was originally supposed to report back in May 2007, and submitted a draft, but has since been granted an extension through August 2008. On the other hand, most of the key provisions in the Iraqi constitution requiring review involve the rest of the benchmark legislation, so this can be fairly said to be underway.

Security Benchmarks (All 7 accomplished)

January 2007
March 2008

Establishing supporting political, media, economic, and services committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan (BSP).
Not done
The government has been supporting the BSP in all of these areas, with or without specific committees being formed.

Providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.
Done--over and above, in fact. Far more than three brigades have rotated through Baghdad, to say nothing of the Iraqi brigades fighting actively in Anbar, Ninewah, Salah ad Din, Babil, Diyala, Wasit, Qadisiya, Basra, and elsewhere. The Iraqi Government is forming a new division in Baghdad (the 11th) to eliminate the need to keep moving forces from provinces into the capital. When that formation is complete, there will be three Iraqi Army divisions permanently stationed in or near the capital (the 6th, the 11th, and the 9th Mechanized Division based in Taji).

Providing Iraqi commanders with all authority to execute this plan and to make tactical and operational decisions, in consultation with U.S commanders, without political intervention, to include the authority to pursue all extremists, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias.
Not done
Done. Both U.S. and Iraqi forces have regularly targeted both Sunni and Shiite militias. The emphasis in this benchmark was on operations against Shia militias. Again, the recent operations in Basra highlight the renewed and increasing determination of the Iraqi Government to accomplish this goal.

Ensuring that, according to President Bush, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said "the Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation."
Not done
Done--there are no "safe havens" in Iraq for outlaws. U.S. and Iraqi conventional and special forces have targeted Sunni and Shiite militias and criminals from Kurdistan to Basra, including Sadr City.