On March 15, 2006, members from both parties in Congress supported the creation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group to review the situation on the ground and propose strategies for the way forward. For more than eight months, the Study Group met with military officers, regional experts, academics, journalists, and high-level government officials from America and abroad. Participants included George W. Bush and members of his cabinet; Bill Clinton; Jalal Talabani; Nouri Kamal al-Maliki; Generals John Abizaid, George Casey, and Anthony Zinni; Colin Powell; Thomas Friedman; George Packer; and many others. This official edition contains the Group's findings and proposals for improving security, strengthening the new government, rebuilding the economy and infrastructure, and maintaining stability in the region. It is a highly anticipated and essential step forward for Iraq, America, and the world.
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December 06, 2006
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Excerpt from The Iraq Study Group Report by James A. Baker, III
Violence is increasing in scope, complexity, and lethality. There are multiple sources of violence in Iraq: the Sunni Arab insurgency, al Qaeda and affiliated jihadist groups, Shiite militias and death squads, and organized criminality. Sectarian violence--particularly in and around Baghdad--has become the principal challenge to stability.
Most attacks on Americans still come from the Sunni Arab insurgency. The insurgency comprises former elements of the Saddam Hussein regime, disaffected Sunni Arab Iraqis, and common criminals. It has significant support within the Sunni Arab community. The insurgency has no single leadership but is a network of networks. It benefits from participants' detailed knowledge of Iraq's infrastructure, and arms and financing are supplied primarily from within Iraq. The insurgents have different goals, although nearly all oppose the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq. Most wish to restore Sunni Arab rule in the country. Some aim at winning local power and control.
Al Qaeda is responsible for a small portion of the violence in Iraq, but that includes some of the more spectacular acts: suicide attacks, large truck bombs, and attacks on significant religious or political targets. Al Qaeda in Iraq is now largely Iraqi-run and composed of Sunni Arabs. Foreign fighters--numbering an estimated 1,300--play a supporting role or carry out suicide operations. Al Qaeda's goals include instigating a wider sectarian war between Iraq's Sunni and Shia, and driving the United States out of Iraq.