The Changing Situation in Iraq
April 1, 2009
Iraq is making real progress in the political, security, and economic dimensions. At the same time, there are reasons why U.S. officials and commanders continue to describe the situation as "fragile." Iraq still faces major challenges in security. Al Qaeda and the Mahdi militia still pose serious threats. Arab and Kurdish tensions are rising, and Sunni and Shi'ite tensions have scarcely ended. If anything, intra-Shi'ite, intra-Sunni, and intra-Kurd power struggles are emerging and could be a new source of violence.
As was the case in previous elections, the successful provincial elections in January have not meant major advances in the quality of governance. Most of those elected lack experience in both politics and governance, they will have to form complex and unstable coalitions, and they must work with the existing local and central governments. They also are only the first step in a complex set of ongoing local, provincial, and national political power struggles that will go on until the national election in late 2009 or early 2010 and the struggle that follows to turn the result into actual governments.
The Burke Chair has used new data from MNF-I, the Iraqi government, the U.S. Departments of Defense and State, and the United Nations to show how this situation is developing in map, tabular, and graphic form. This report includes MNF-I data provide as of April 3, 2009.