The Blog

Integrating Iraq

11:45 AM, Aug 10, 2009 • By BILL ROGGIO
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Renowned author and CNAS fellow Tom Ricks runs a series on his blog, The Best Defense, titled "Iraq, the unraveling." The series cherry-picks the worst stories from Iraq and is used to support his assertion that Iraq is falling apart and political reconciliation failed despite the positive effects of the surge. But stories about legitimate reconciliation are consistently ignored.

If you strictly read The Best Defense, you'd think Iraqi is indeed unraveling. One of Ricks's themes is that the government refuses to integrate the Awakening forces -- the groups of Sunni tribesmen and former insurgents who turned on al Qaeda and other terror groups. But if you closely follow the news from Iraq, you'd know the government is slowly integrating these forces into the security forces and other ministries. Today, the government announced 8,800 Awakening forces in Diyala province will be absorbed. Last week, another 3,000 Awakening fighters were hired by the government.

Perhaps Ricks is correct and Iraq will deteriorate into chaos. There are real political problems. Al Qaeda lurks in the background while Iran and Syria continue to meddle. But it is too soon to state with authority that Iraq is falling apart. Iraq's security forces have performed well in the first month largely handling security in the big cities. Prime Minister Maliki may enter into a coalition with the Awakening and has apparently made some progress with the Kurds. Perhaps a little balance is needed when assessing the situation in Iraq.