The Iraq War
The Iraq War, sometimes called The Second Gulf War, is an ongoing conflict which began with a United States-led 20 March 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The main rationale for the Iraq War offered by U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and their domestic and foreign supporters was that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction. These weapons, it was argued, posed a threat to the United States, its allies and interests. In the 2003 State of the Union address, Bush claimed that the U.S. could not wait until the threat from Saddam Hussein became imminent. After the invasion, however, no evidence was found of such weapons. To support the war, other U.S. officials cited claims of a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Yet others pointed to the abuse of human rights in Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the need to establish democracy in Iraq as reason for the war. They have also claimed that the economic importance of Iraq's oil supply limited non-military options. Many critics of the war have alleged that this was a primary reason for the invasion.
The war began on 20 March 2003, when a largely British and American force supported by small contingents from Australia, Denmark and Poland invaded Iraq. The invasion soon led to the defeat and flight of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The U.S.-led coalition occupied Iraq and attempted to establish a new democratic government; however it failed to restore order in Iraq. The unrest led to asymmetric warfare with the Iraqi insurgency, civil war between Sunni and Shia Iraqis and al-Qaeda operations in Iraq. As a result of this failure to restore order, a growing number of coalition nations have withdrawn troops from Iraq. The causes and consequences of the war remain extremely controversial.
Timeline of the war
1991-2003: U.N. Inspectors and the no-fly zones
Following the 1991 Gulf War, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 mandated that Iraqi chemical, biological, nuclear, and long range missile programs be halted and all such weapons destroyed under a United Nations Special Commission control. U.N. weapons inspectors inside Iraq were able to verify the destruction of a large amount of WMD-material, but substantial issues remained unresolved after they left Iraq in 1998 due to the lack of cooperation by the Iraqi government.
In addition to the inspection regime, the United States and the United Kingdom (along with France until 1998) had been engaged in a low-level conflict with Iraq, by enforcing northern and southern Iraqi no-fly zones. These zones were created following the Persian Gulf War to protect the Iraqi Kurdistan in the north and the southern Shia areas. Iraqi air-defense installations and American and British air patrols constantly exchanged fire during this period.
Approximately nine months after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States initiated Operation Southern Focus as a change to its response strategy, by increasing the overall number of missions and selecting targets throughout the no-fly zones in order to disrupt the military command structure in Iraq. The weight of bombs dropped increased from none in March 2002 and 0.3 in April 2002 to between 8 and 14 tons per month in May-August, reaching a pre-war peak of 54.6 tons in September 2002.
2001-2003: Iraq disarmament crisis
The issue of Iraq's disarmament reached a crisis in 2002-2003, when President of the United States George W. Bush demanded a complete end to alleged Iraqi production and use of weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq comply with UN Resolutions requiring UN inspectors unfettered access to areas those inspectors thought might have weapons production facilities. Iraq had been banned by the United Nations from developing or possessing such weapons since the 1991 Gulf War. It was also required to permit inspections to confirm Iraqi compliance. Bush repeatedly backed demands for unfettered inspection and disarmament with threats of invasion. In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1284 (enacted 17 December 1999), Iraq reluctantly agreed to new inspections in late 2002. The inspectors didn't find any WMD stockpiles, but they did not view Iraqi declarations as credible either.
In early 2003, the United States, United Kingdom, and Spain proposed another resolution on Iraq, which they called the "eighteenth resolution" to give Iraq a deadline to comply with previous resolutions before a possible military intervention. This proposed resolution was subsequently withdrawn for lack of support on the U.N. Security Council. In particular, NATO members France and Germany, together with Russia, were opposed to a military intervention in Iraq, on the ground that it would be very risky, in terms of security, for the international community, and defended a diplomatic process of disarmament. On January 20, 2003, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin declared "...we believe that military intervention would be the worst solution".
Meanwhile anti-war groups across the world organised public protests. According to the French academic Dominique Reynié between the 3rd of January and 12th of April 2003, 36 million people across the globe took part in almost 3,000 protests against war in Iraq, the demonstrations on February 15 2003 being the largest and most prolific.
In March 2003 the U.S. government announced that "diplomacy has failed" and that it would proceed with a coalition of allied countries, named the "coalition of the willing", to rid Iraq of its alleged weapons of mass destruction. In the same month the U.S. government also advised U.N. weapons inspectors to begin pulling out of Baghdad. Iraq's disarmament was supported by a majority of Congress, who passed the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq on the 11 October 2002. This was used by the Bush Administration as the legal basis for the United States to invade Iraq.
On September 16, 2004 Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, said of the invasion, "I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal."
The 2003 invasion of Iraq began on March 20, under the U.S. codename "Operation Iraqi Freedom." The British military's codename for their participation in the invasion was called Operation Telic. The coalition forces cooperated with Kurdish peshmerga forces in the north. Approximately forty other nations, dubbed the "coalition of the willing," also participated by providing equipment, services and security as well as special forces. The initial coalition military forces were roughly 300,000, of which 98% were U.S. and British troops. On April 9 Baghdad fell to U.S. forces. American infantrymen seized deserted Baath Party ministries and pulled down a huge iron statue of Saddam Hussein, ending his 24-year rule of Iraq. However looting of government offices and serious disorder broke out soon after and Hussein's fighting forces melted away in large portions of the city. On April 13 Tikrit, the home town of Saddam Hussein, and the last town not under control of the coalition, was taken by the Marines of Task Force Tripoli. Perhaps to the surprise of many, there was little resistance. On April 15 the coalition partners claimed that the war was effectively over.
Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraq Survey Group
See also: Iraqi Governing Council, International Advisory and Monitoring Board, CPA Program Review Board, Development Fund for Iraq, and Reconstruction of Iraq
Shortly after the invasion, the multinational coalition created the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), based in the Green Zone, as a transitional government of Iraq until the establishment of a democratic government. Citing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483 (22 May 2003) and the laws of war, the CPA vested itself with executive, legislative, and judicial authority over the Iraqi government from the period of the CPA's inception on April 21, 2003, until its dissolution on June 28, 2004.
The CPA was originally headed by Jay Garner, a former U.S. military officer, but his appointment lasted for only a brief time. After Garner resigned, President Bush appointed L. Paul Bremer as the head the CPA and he served until the CPA's dissolution in July 2004. Another group created in the spring of 2003 was the Iraq Survey Group (ISG; its final report is commonly called the Duelfer Report.). This was a fact-finding mission sent by the multinational force in Iraq after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes developed by Iraq. It consisted of a 1,400-member international team organised by the Pentagon and CIA to hunt for suspected stockpiles of WMD, such as chemical and biological agents, and any supporting research programmes and infrastructure that could be used to develop WMD. The ISG has been unable to find these.
"End of major combat"
On May 1, 2003, President Bush staged a dramatic visit to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln while the ship was a few miles west of San Diego, California on its way home from a long deployment which had included service in the Persian Gulf. The visit climaxed at sunset with his now well-known "Mission Accomplished" speech. In this nationally-televised speech, delivered before the sailors and airmen on the flight deck, Bush effectively declared victory due to the defeat of Iraq's conventional forces. However, Saddam Hussein remained at large and significant pockets of resistance remained.
After President Bush's speech, the coalition military noticed a gradually increasing flurry of attacks on its troops in various regions, especially in the "Sunni Triangle". In the initial chaos after the fall of the Iraqi government, there was massive looting of infrastructure, including government buildings, official residences, museums, banks, and military depots. According to The Pentagon, 250,000 tons (of 650,000 tons total) of ordnance was looted, providing a significant source of ammunition for Iraqi insurgency. The insurgents were further helped by hundreds of weapons caches created by the conventional Iraqi army and Republican Guard beforehand.
Initially, the resistance largely stemmed from fedayeen and loyalists of Saddam Hussein or the Baath Party, but soon religious radicals and Iraqis angered by the occupation contributed to the insurgency. The insurgents are generally known to the Coalition forces as "Anti-Iraqi Forces."
Most initial insurgency was concentrated in the Sunni Triangle, which includes Baghdad. The three provinces that had the highest number of attacks were Baghdad, Anbar, and Salah Ad Din. -Those 3 provinces account for 35% of the population, but are responsible for 73% of U.S. military deaths (as of December 5, 2006), and an even higher percentage of recent U.S. military deaths (about 80%). This resistance has been described as a type of guerrilla warfare. Insurgent tactics include mortars, missiles, suicide attacks, snipers (cf. Juba, the Baghdad Sniper), improvised explosive devices (IEDs), roadside bombs, car bombs, small arms fire (usually with assault rifles), and RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), as well as sabotage against the oil, water, and electrical infrastructure.
Post-invasion Iraq coalition efforts commenced after the fall of the Hussein regime. The coalition nations, together with the United Nations, began to work to establish a stable democratic state capable of defending itself, holding itself together as well as overcoming insurgent attacks and internal divisions.
Meanwhile, coalition military forces launched several operations around the Tigris River peninsula and in the Sunni Triangle. A series of similar operations were launched throughout the summer in the Sunni Triangle. Toward the end of 2003, the intensity and pace of insurgent attacks began to increase. A sharp surge in guerrilla attacks ushered in an insurgent effort that was termed the "Ramadan Offensive", as it coincided with the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Coalition forces brought to bear the use of air power for the first time since the end of the invasion. Suspected ambush sites and mortar launching positions were struck from the air and with artillery fire. Surveillance of major routes, patrols, and raids on suspected insurgents were stepped up. In addition, two villages, including Saddam’s birthplace of al-Auja and the small town of Abu Hishma were wrapped in barbed wire and carefully monitored.
However, the failure to restore basic services to above pre-war levels, where over a decade of sanctions, bombing, corruption, and decaying infrastructure had left major cities functioning at much-reduced levels, also contributed to local anger at the IPA government headed by an executive council. On July 2, 2003, President Bush declared that American troops would remain in Iraq in spite of the attacks, challenging the insurgents with "My answer is, bring 'em on", a line which was widely criticised and the President later expressed misgivings about having used it. In the summer of 2003, the multinational forces also focused on hunting down the remaining leaders of the former regime. On July 22, during a raid by the U.S. 101st Airborne Division and soldiers from Task Force 20, Saddam Hussein's sons (Uday and Qusay) and one of his grandsons were killed. In all, over 300 top leaders of the former regime were killed or captured, as well as numerous lesser functionaries and military personnel.
Saddam Hussein captured
In the wave of intelligence information fueling the raids on remaining Baath Party members connected to insurgency, Saddam Hussein himself was captured on December 13, 2003 on a farm near Tikrit in Operation Red Dawn. The operation was conducted by the United States Army's 4th Infantry Division and members of Task Force 121.
With the capture of Saddam and a drop in the number of insurgent attacks, some concluded the multinational forces were prevailing in the fight against the insurgency. The provisional government began training the New Iraqi Security forces intended to defend the country, and the United States promised over $20 billion in reconstruction money in the form of credit against Iraq's future oil revenues. Oil revenue was also used for rebuilding schools and for work on the electrical and refining infrastructure.
Shortly after the capture of Saddam, elements left out of the Coalition Provisional Authority began to agitate for elections and the formation of an Iraqi Interim Government. Most prominent among these was the Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The Coalition Provisional Authority opposed allowing democratic elections at this time, preferring instead to eventually hand-over power to the Interim Iraqi Government. Due to the internal fight for power in the new Iraqi government more insurgents stepped up their activities. The two most turbulent centers were the area around Fallujah and the poor Shia sections of cities from Baghdad (Sadr City) to Basra in the south.
2004: The insurgency expands
The start of 2004 was marked by a relative lull in violence. Insurgent forces reorganised during this time, studying the multinational forces' tactics and planning a renewed offensive. Guerrilla attacks were less intense. However, in late 2004 foreign fighters from around the Middle East as well as al-Qaeda in Iraq (an affiliated al-Qaeda group), led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would help to drive the insurgency.
As the insurgent activity increased, there was a distinct change in targeting from the coalition forces towards the new Iraqi Security Forces, as hundreds of Iraqi civilians and police were killed over the next few months in a series of massive bombings. One hypothesis for these increased bombings is that the relevance of Saddam Hussein and his followers was diminishing in direct proportion to the influence of radical Islamists, both foreign and Iraqi. An organised Sunni insurgency, with deep roots and both nationalist and Islamist motivations, was becoming more powerful throughout Iraq. The Mahdi Army also began launching attacks on coalition targets in an attempt to seize control from Iraqi security forces. The southern and central portions of Iraq were beginning to erupt in urban guerrilla combat as multinational forces attempted to keep control and prepared for a counteroffensive.
On March 31, 2004 - Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah ambushed a convoy containing four American private military contractors from Blackwater USA who were conducting delivery for food caterers Eurest Support Services. The four private armed contractors, Scott Helvenston, Jerko Zovko, Wesley Batalona and Michael Teague, were killed with grenades and small arms fire, their bodies dragged from their vehicles, beaten and set ablaze. Their burned corpses were then dragged through the streets before being hung over a bridge crossing the Euphrates. Photos of the event were released to news agencies worldwide, causing a great deal of indignation and moral outrage in the United States, and prompting an unsuccessful "pacification" of the city: the First Battle of Fallujah in April 2004. The offensive was resumed in November, in the bloodiest battle of the war so far: the Second Battle of Fallujah, described by the U.S. military as "the heaviest urban combat since the battle of Hue City in Vietnam."
2005: Elections and sovereignty transferred to Iraqi Transitional Government
On January 31, Iraqis elected the Iraqi Transitional Government in order to draft a permanent constitution. Although some violence and widespread Sunni boycott marred the event, most of the eligible Kurd and Shia populace participated. On February 4, Paul Wolfowitz announced that 15,000 U.S. troops whose tours of duty had been extended in order to provide election security would be pulled out of Iraq by the next month. February to April proved to be relatively peaceful months compared to the carnage of November and January, with insurgent attacks averaging 30 a day from the prior average of 70.
Hopes for a quick end to an insurgency and a withdrawal of U.S. troops were dashed in May, Iraq's bloodiest month since the invasion. Suicide bombers, believed to be mainly disheartened Iraqi Sunni Arabs, Syrians and Saudis, tore through Iraq. Their targets were often Shia gatherings or civilian concentrations mainly of Shias. As a result, over 700 Iraqi civilians died in that month, as well as 79 U.S. soldiers.
2006: Permanent Iraqi government and possible outbreak of civil war
The beginning of 2006 was marked by government creation talks, growing sectarian violence, and continuous anti-coalition attacks. Sectarian violence expanded to a new level of intensity following the al-Askari Mosque bombing in the Iraqi city of Samarra, on February 22, 2006. The explosion at the mosque, one of the holiest sites in Shi'a Islam, is believed to have been caused by a bomb planted by Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Although no injuries occurred in the blast, the mosque was severely damaged and the bombing resulted in violence over the following days. Over 100 dead bodies with bullet holes were found on February 23, and at least 165 people are thought to have been killed. In the aftermath of this attack the US military calculated that the average homicide rate in Baghdad tripled from 11 to 33 deaths per day.The United Nations has since described the environment in Iraq as a "civil war-like situation." A 2006 study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has estimated that more than 601,000 Iraqis have died in violence since the U.S. invasion and that fewer than one third of these deaths came at the hands of Coalition forces. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Iraqi government estimate that more than 365,000 Iraqis have been displaced since the bombing of the al-Askari Mosque, bringing the total number of Iraqi refugees to more than 1.6 million.
The current government of Iraq took office on May 20, 2006 following approval by the members of the Iraqi National Assembly. This followed the general election in December 2005. The government succeeded the Iraqi Transitional Government which had continued in office in a caretaker capacity until the new government was agreed.
Increased sectarian violence
In September 2006, The Washington Post reported that the commander of the Marine forces in Iraq filed "an unusual secret report" concluding that the prospects for securing the Anbar province are dim, and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there.
Iraq was listed fourth on the 2006 Failed States Index compiled by the American Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace think-tank. The list was topped by Sudan.
As of October 20 the U.S military announced that Operation Together Forward had failed to stem the tide of violence in Baghdad, and Shiite militants under al-Sadr seized several southern Iraq cities.
U.S. congressional elections and expanding violence
On November 7, 2006, United States midterm elections removed Bush's Republican Party from control of both chambers of the United States Congress. The failings in the Iraq war was cited as one of the main causes even though the Bush administration attempted to distance itself from its earlier "stay the course" rhetoric.
On November 23, the deadliest attack since the beginning of the Iraq war occurred. Suspected Sunni-Arab militants used five suicide car bombs and two mortar rounds on the capital's Shiite Sadr City slum to kill at least 215 people and wound 257. Shiite mortar teams quickly retaliated, firing 10 shells at Sunni Islam's most important shrine in Baghdad, badly damaging the Abu Hanifa mosque and killing one person. Eight more rounds slammed down near the offices of the Association of Muslim Scholars, the top Sunni Muslim organisation in Iraq, setting nearby houses on fire. Two other mortar barrages on Sunni neighborhoods in west Baghdad killed nine and wounded 21, police said.
On November 28, another Marine Corps intelligence report was released confirming the previous report on Anbar stating that, "U.S. and Iraqi troops 'are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar,' and 'nearly all government institutions from the village to provincial levels have disintegrated or have been thoroughly corrupted and infiltrated by Al Qaeda in Iraq.'"
Iraq Study Group report and Saddam Hussein's execution
Iraq Study Group Report was released on December 6, 2006. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group was led by former secretary of state James Baker and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton, and concludes that "the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating" and "U.S. forces seem to be caught in a mission that has no foreseeable end." The report's 79 recommendations include increasing diplomatic measures with Iran and Syria and intensifying efforts to train Iraqi troops. On December 18, a Pentagon report finds that attacks on Americans and Iraqis average about 960 a week, the highest since the reports began in 2005.
Coalition forces formally transferred control of a province to the Iraqi government, the first since the war. Military prosecutors charged 8 Marines with the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha that in November 2005, 10 of them women and children. Four officers were also charged with dereliction of duty in relation to the event.
After capture in December 2003, Saddam Hussein was hanged on December 30, 2006 after being found guilty of crimes against humanity by an Iraqi court.
2007: U.S. troop surge
In a January 10, 2007 televised address to the American public, Bush proposed 21,500 more troops for Iraq, a job programme for Iraqis, more reconstruction proposals, and 1.2 billion dollars for these programmes. Asked why he thought his plan would work this time, Bush said: "Because it has to." In the 2007 State of the Union Address, Bush announced "deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq".
Increasing demands on U.S. troops
Maintaining higher troop levels in the face of higher casualties required two changes in the army. Tours of duty were increased and the exclusions of volunteers with a history of criminal acts were relaxed (Moral Waiver). Both of these changes are expected to increase the probability of violence against Iraqi noncombatants. A defense department sponsored report described increased length of tours leading to higher stress which increase manifestations of anger and disrespect for civilians.
John Hutson, dean and president of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire and former judge advocate general of the Navy, said the military must tread carefully in deciding which criminals to accept. There is a reason, he said, why allowing people with criminal histories into the military has long been the exception rather than the rule. "If you are recruiting somebody who has demonstrated some sort of antisocial behavior and then you are a putting a gun in their hands, you have to be awfully careful about what you are doing. You are not putting a hammer in their hands, or asking them to sell used cars. You are potentially asking them to kill people."
In April, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that all active-duty Army soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will serve for sixteen months, instead of the twelve month tours they expected. "Without this action, we would have had to deploy five Army active-duty brigades sooner than the 12-month at-home goal", Gates said. Statistics released in April indicated that more and more soldiers have been deserting their duty, a sharp rise from the years before.
Pressures on U.S. troops are compounded by the imminent withdrawal of a significant porton of British forces. On February 21, 2007 British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that following the success of Operation Sinbad the UK will reduce its troops in Iraq as it handed off Basra Governorate to the Iraqis: the 7,100 serving troops would be cut to 5,500 in the coming months, with hopes that 500 more will leave by late summer. He also stated that British forces would remain into 2008 and did not predict how many troops are likely to be there next year. Cheney hailed this as proof of success in Iraq. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen also announced the withdrawal of Danish troops from Iraq. The 450 Danish troops will leave the country in August and will be replaced by a unit of nine soldiers manning four observational helicopters.
The rate of American deaths in Baghdad over the first seven weeks of the "surge" security escalation has nearly doubled from the previous period. According to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Monitor, U.S. troop deaths since the beginning of the escalation have been "running at 3.14/day, which is the highest of any period since the end of major combat."
Effects of the surge on security
By mid-March 2007, violence in Baghdad was reported by US sources close to the military as having been curtailed by 80%; however, independent reports have raised questions about such assessments. An Iraqi military spokesman claims that civilian deaths since the start of the troop surge plan were 265 in Baghdad, down from 1,440 in the four previous weeks. The New York Times has found more than 450 Iraqi civilians were killed during the same 28-day period, based on initial daily reports from Interior Ministry and hospital officials. Historically, the daily counts tallied by the NYT have underestimated the total death toll by 50 percent or more when compared to studies by the United Nations, which rely upon figures from the Iraqi Health Ministry and morgue figures.
Late March, 2007, the US Congress passed supplemental funding authorisation bills to pay $122 billion for emergency war operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, including requirements that the US withdraw its troops from Iraq by August, 2008. Bush threatened to veto any bill including such a withdraw provision. The United States Senate approved on March 30, 2007 the goal of getting all combat soldiers out by March 31, 2008. The Senate's shorter timetable is a goal, not a requirement on Bush and is designed to win the support of centrist Democrats.
Despite a massive security crackdown in Baghdad associated with the "surge" in coalition troop strength, the monthly death toll in Iraq rose 15 percent in March. 1,869 Iraqi civilians were killed and 2,719 were wounded in March, compared to 1,646 killed and 2,701 wounded in February. In March, 165 Iraqi policemen were killed against 131 the previous month, while 44 Iraqi soldiers died compared to 29 in February. US military deaths in March were nearly double those of the Iraqi army, despite US claims that Iraqi forces led the security crackdown in Baghdad. The death toll among insurgent militants fell to 481 in March, compared to 586 killed in February; however, the number of arrests jumped to 5,664 in March against 1,921 in February.
Three months after the start of the surge, troops controlled less than a third of the capital, far short of the initial goal, according to an internal military assessment completed in May. Violence was especially chronic in mixed Shiite-Sunni neighborhoods in western Baghdad. Improvements had not yet been widespread or lasting across Baghdad.
Worsening humanitarian crisis
A March survey of more than 2,000 Iraqis commissioned by the BBC and three other news organizations found that 51% of the population consider attacks on coalition forces "acceptable," up from 17% in 2004 and 35% in 2006. Also:
64% described their family's economic situation as being somewhat or very bad, up from 30% in 2005.
88% described the availability of electricity as being either somewhat or very bad, up from 65% in 2004.
69% described the availability of clean water as somewhat or very bad, up from 48% in 2004.
88% described the availability of fuel for cooking and driving as being somewhat or very bad.
58% described reconstruction efforts in the area in which they live as either somewhat or very ineffective, and 9% described them as being totally nonexistent.
In a report entitled "Civilians without Protection: The Ever-Worsening Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq", produced well after the stepped-up American-led military operations in Baghdad began February 14, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement said that millions of Iraqis are in a disastrous situation that is getting worse, with medical professionals fleeing the country after their colleagues were killed or abducted. Mothers are appealing for someone to pick up the bodies on the street so their children will be spared the horror of looking at them on their way to school. Red Cross Director of Operations Pierre Kraehenbuehl said that hospitals and other key services are desperately short of staff, with more than half the doctors said to have already left the country.
More than half of the members of Iraq's parliament rejected the continuing occupation of their country for the first time. 144 of the 275 lawmakers signed onto a legislative petition that would require the Iraqi government to seek approval from parliament before it requests an extension of the U.N. mandate for foreign forces to be in Iraq expiring at the end of 2007. It also calls for a timetable for the troop withdrawal and a freeze on the size of the foreign forces. The U.N. Security Council mandate for U.S.-led forces in Iraq will terminate "if requested by the government of Iraq." Under Iraqi law, the speaker must present a resolution called for by a majority of lawmakers. 59% of those polled in the U.S. support a timetable for withdrawal.
According to an anonymous Iraqi government official, 1,944 civilians and at least 174 soldiers and policemen were killed in May, 2007, a 29% increase in civilian deaths over April. The Iraqi government's estimate of the number of civilian deaths has always been much lower than reports from independent researchers, such as the Lancet surveys of mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Mortar attacks in the capital are becoming deadlier.
Armed Iraqi groups: insurgents and militias
The Iraqi insurgency is the armed resistance by diverse groups, including private militias, within Iraq to the US occupation of Iraq and to the U.S.-supported Iraqi government. The fighting has clear sectarian overtones and significant international implications (see Civil war in Iraq). This asymmetric warfare is being waged by Iraqi rebels, almost certainly with assistance from both foreign governments (possibly Syria and/or Iran) and loosely termed NGOs. This campaign is called the Iraqi resistance by its supporters and the anti-Iraqi forces(AIF) by Coalition forces.
By the fall of 2003, these insurgent groups began using typical guerrilla tactics such as ambushes, bombings, kidnappings, and IEDs. Other tactics included mortars, suicide attacks, explosively formed penetrators, small arms fire, anti-aircraft missiles (SA-7, SA-14, SA-16) and RPGs, as well as sabotage against the oil, water, and electrical infrastructure. Multi-national Force-Iraq statistics (see detailed BBC graphic) show that the insurgents primarily targeted coalition forces, Iraqi security forces and infrastructure, and lastly civilians and government officials. These irregular forces favored attacking unarmored or lightly armored Humvee vehicles, the U.S. military's primary transport vehicle, primarily through the roadside IED. In November 2003, some of these forces successfully attacked U.S. rotary aircraft with SA-7 missiles bought on the global black market.Insurgent groups such as the al-Abud Network have even attempted to constitute their own chemical weapons programs, attempting to weaponise traditional mortar rounds with ricin and mustard toxin.
There is evidence that some guerrilla groups are organised, perhaps by the fedayeen and other Saddam Hussein or Baath loyalists, religious radicals, Iraqis angered by the occupation, and foreign fighters. On February 23, 2005 Al-Iraqiya TV (Iraq) aired transcripts of confessions by Syrian intelligence officer Anas Ahmad Al-Issa and Iraqi insurgent Shihab Al-Sab'awi concerning their booby-trap operations, explosions, kidnappings, assassinations, and details of beheading training in Syria.
In addition to internal strife, Iran may be playing a role in the insurgency. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Michael Barbero said, "Iran is definitely a destabilising force in Iraq. (...) I think it's irrefutable that Iran is responsible for training, funding and equipping some of these Shia extremist groups."
Two of the most powerful current militias are the Mahdi Army and the Badr Organization, with both militias having substantial political support as well in the current Iraqi government. Initially, both organisations were involved in the Iraqi insurgency, most clearly seen with the Mahdi Army at the Battle of Najaf. However in recent months, there has been a split between the two groups.
This violent break between Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and the rival Badr Organization of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, was seen in the fighting in the town of Amarah on October 20, 2006, would severely complicate the efforts of Iraqi and American officials to quell the soaring violence in Iraq.
More recently in late 2005 and 2006, due to increasing sectarian violence based on either tribal/ethnic distinctions or simply due to increased criminal violence, various militias have formed, with whole neighborhoods and cities sometimes being protected or attacked by ethnic or neighborhood militias.One such group, known as the Anbar Awakening, was formed in September 2006 to fight against Al Qaeda and other radical islamist groups in the particularly violent Anbar province. Led by Sheik and Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi, who heads the Sunni Anbar Salvation Council, the Anbar Awakening has more than 6,000 troops and is seen by key U.S. officials such as Condoleeza Rice as a potential ally to U.S. occupation forces.
Iraq War and U.S. War on Terrorism
President Bush has consistently referred to the Iraq war as "the central front in the War on Terror", and has argued that if the U.S. pulls out of Iraq, "terrorists will follow us here." While other proponents of the war have regularly echoed this assertion, as the conflict has dragged on, members of the U.S. Congress, the American public, and even U.S. troops have begun to question the connection between Iraq and the fight against terrorism. In particular, many leading intelligence experts have begun to argue that the war in Iraq is actually increasing terrorism.
Views of U.S. Congress, public, and troops
Calls for withdrawal from Iraq
Opinion from 2003 to 2005
At the outset of the war, the U.S. Congress and public opinion supported the notion that the Iraq War was part of the global war on terrorism. The 2002 Congressional resolution authorising military force against Iraq cited the U.S. determination to "prosecute the war on terrorism", and in April 2003, one month after the invasion, a poll found that 77% of Americans agreed that the Iraq War was part of the War on Terrorism.In 2004, an Army War College report said the war diverts attention and resources from the threat posed by Al Qaeda and called for downsizing the war on terrorism and focusing instead on the threat from Al Qaeda.
Opinion from 2006 to date
As the military and civilian death toll has mounted, the Iraqi insurgency has shifted to what many observers have labeled a civil war, and the politics of Iraq have remained unstable, many politicians and citizens from the United States and across the world have begun pushing for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq. Significant American calls for withdrawal include the Iraq Study Group Report and the Center for American Progress's proposal for strategic reset.
As of spring 2007, surveys showed majorities of Americans in support of a timetable for withdrawal. While up to 70 percent of Americans in one survey favored withdrawal, most prefer to leave gradually over 12 months, and 60 percent say the U.S. has a moral obligation to the Iraqi people. In addition to voicing concerns over the human and financial costs of the war, supporters of withdrawal argue that the U.S. presence fosters ongoing violence by providing a target for al-Qaeda and by allowing Iraqi political leaders to avoid reaching a power-sharing agreement hile the withdrawal will induce Iraq's neighbors to become more involved in quelling violence in the country and will relieve the strain on the U.S. military. The withdrawal debate has brought comparison of Iraq and Vietnam wars.
After the 2006 midterm Congressional elections, Congress has pushed to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq, in part based on the argument that Iraq is a distraction, as opposed to a part of, the war on terror. Likewise, a January 2007 poll found that 57% of Americans feel that the Iraq War is not part of the War on Terror. By June 2007, polls revealed that only 30% of Americans support the war. On July 12, 2007 the House passed a resolution by 223 to 201, for redeployment [or withdrawal] of U.S. armed forces out of Iraq. The resolution requires most troops to withdraw from Iraq by April 1, 2008.
Increase in terrorism
As part of the justification for the war, the Bush Administration argued that Saddam Hussein had ties to al-Qaeda, and that his overthrow would lead to democratisation in the Middle East, decreasing terrorism overall. However, reports from the CIA, the U.S. State Department, the FBI, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as the investigations of foreign intelligence agencies found no evidence of an operational connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda. On the contrary, a consensus has developed among intelligence experts that the Iraq war has increased terrorism. Counterterrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna frequently refers to the invasion of Iraq as a "fatal mistake." London's conservative International Institute for Strategic Studies concluded in 2004 that the occupation of Iraq had become "a potent global recruitment pretext" for jihadists and that the invasion "galvanised" al-Qaeda and "perversely inspired insurgent violence" there. The U.S. National Intelligence Council concluded in a January 2005 report that the war in Iraq had become a breeding ground for a new generation of terrorists; David B. Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats, indicated that the report concluded that the war in Iraq provided terrorists with "a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills... There is even, under the best scenario, over time, the likelihood that some of the jihadists who are not killed there will, in a sense, go home, wherever home is, and will therefore disperse to various other countries." The Council's Chairman Robert L. Hutchings said, "At the moment, Iraq is a magnet for international terrorist activity." And the 2006 National Intelligence Estimate, which outlined the considered judgment of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, held that "The Iraq conflict has become the 'cause celebre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement."
Al-Qaeda leaders have seen the Iraq war as a boon to their recruiting and operational efforts, providing evidence to jihadists worldwide that America is at war with Islam, and the training ground for a new generation of jihadists to practice attacks on American forces. In October 2003, Osama bin Laden announced: "Be glad of the good news: America is mired in the swamps of the Tigris and Euphrates. Bush is, through Iraq and its oil, easy prey. Here is he now, thank God, in an embarrassing situation and here is America today being ruined before the eyes of the whole world." Al-Qaeda commander Seif al-Adl gloated about the war in Iraq, indicating, "The Americans took the bait and fell into our trap." A letter thought to be from al-Qaeda leader Atiyah Abd al-Rahman found in Iraq among the rubble where al-Zarqawi was killed and released by the U.S. military in October 2006, indicated that al-Qaeda perceived the war as beneficial to its goals: "The most important thing is that the jihad continues with steadfastness ... indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest."
International opinion of the War on Terrorism
In 2002, strong majorities supported the U.S.-led War on Terrorism in United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, India, and Russia. By 2006, supporters of the effort were in the minority in Britain (49%), France (43%), Germany (47%), and Japan (26%). Although a majority of Russians still supported the War on Terrorism, that majority had decreased by 21%. Whereas 63% of the Spanish population supported the War on Terrorism in 2003, only 19% of the population indicated support in 2006. 19% of the Chinese population supports the War on Terrorism, and less than a fifth of the populations of Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan support the effort. Now at about 56%, India's support for the War on Terrorism has been stable. Andrew Kohut, speaking to the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, noted that, according to the Pew Center polls conducted in 2004, "majorities or pluralities in seven of the nine countries surveyed said the U.S.-led war on terrorism was not really a sincere effort to reduce international terrorism. This was true not only in Muslim countries such as Morocco and Turkey, but in France and Germany as well. The true purpose of the war on terrorism, according to these skeptics, is American control of Middle East oil and U.S. domination of the world." Dr. Steven Kull testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on May 17, 2007, that "a new feeling about the US that has emerged in the wake of 9-11. This is not so much an intensification of negative feelings toward the US as much as a new perception of American intentions. There now seems to be a perception that the US has entered into a war against Islam itself. I think perhaps the most significant finding of our study is that across the four countries (Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan, and Indonesia), 8 in 10 believe that the US seeks to 'weaken and divide the Islamic world.'"
For coalition death totals see the infobox at the top right. See also the above main article. It has casualty numbers for coalition nations, contractors, non-Iraqi civilians, journalists, media helpers, aid workers, wounded, etc.. The main article also gives explanations for the wide variation in estimates and counts, and shows many ways in which undercounting occurs. Casualty figures, especially Iraqi ones, are highly disputed. This section gives a brief overview. "There are now at least 8 independent estimates of the number or rate of deaths induced by the invasion of Iraq."
U.S. General Tommy Franks reportedly estimated soon after the invasion that there had been 30,000 Iraqi casualties as of April 9, 2003.After this initial estimate he made no further public estimates.
In December 2005 President Bush said there were 30,000 Iraqi dead. White House spokesman Scott McClellan later said it was "not an official government estimate", and was based on media reports.
There have been several attempts by the media, coalition governments and others to estimate the Iraqi casualties:
The Lancet surveys of mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq estimates 654,965 Iraqi deaths (range of 392,979-942,636) from March 2003 to July 2006. That total number of deaths (all Iraqis) includes all excess deaths due to increased lawlessness, degraded infrastructure, poorer healthcare, etc, and includes civilians, military deaths and insurgent deaths. Although the British Government initially tried to dispute the accuracy of this report, the UK Ministry of Defence's chief scientific adviser later said the survey's methods were "close to best practice" and the study design was "robust." This is the only figure presented here which is intended to show the total excess deaths (rather than lower limits, provided by surveys of only those deaths reported to authorities or media agencies). However, the surveys have been criticised es exaggerated. Professor Michael Spagat, an economist from Royal Holloway College, University of London, says it contains misrepresentations of mortality figures suggested by other organisations, an inaccurate graph, the use of the word "casualties" to mean deaths rather than deaths plus injuries, and the perplexing finding that child deaths have fallen.
The United Nations found that 34,452 violent civilian deaths were reported by morgues, hospitals, and municipal authorities across Iraq in 2006.
The Iraqi ministries of Health, Defence and Interior said that 14,298 civilians, 1,348 police, and 627 soldiers were killed in 2006. The Iraqi government does not count deaths classed as "criminal", nor those from kidnappings, nor wounded persons who die later as the result of attacks. However "a figure of 3700 civilian deaths in October , the latest tally given by the UN based on data from the Health Ministry and the Baghdad morgue, was branded exaggerated by the Iraqi Government."
The Iraq Body Count project states for the week ending December 31, 2006: "It was a truly violent year, as around 24,000 civilians lost their lives in Iraq. This was a massive rise in violence: 14,000 had been killed in 2005, 10,500 in 2004 and just under 12,000 in 2003 (7,000 of them killed during the actual war, while only 5,000 killed during the ‘peace’ that followed in May 2003). In December 2006 alone around 2,800 civilians were reported killed. This week there were over 560 civilian deaths reported." Only deaths reported by respected media agencies are included in these figures.
In November 2006 Iraq's Health Minister Ali al-Shemari said that since the March 2003 invasion between 100,000 and 150,000 Iraqis have been killed. "Al-Shemari said on Thursday [Nov. 9] that he based his figure on an estimate of 100 bodies per day brought to morgues and hospitals – though such a calculation would come out closer to 130,000 in total."
Iraqi health care deterioration
The [Iraq] nation's health has deteriorated to a level not seen since the 1950s, said Joseph Chamie, former director of the U.N. Population Division and an Iraq specialist. "They were at the forefront", he said, referring to health care just before the 1991 Persian Gulf War. "Now they're looking more and more like a country in sub-Saharan Africa."
As of November 4, 2006, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that 1.8 million Iraqis had been displaced to neighboring countries, and 1.6 million were displaced internally, with nearly 100,000 Iraqis fleeing to Syria and Jordan each month.
As of 2007 more Iraqis have lost their homes and become refugees than the population of any other country. Over 3.9 million people, close to 16% of the Iraqi population, have become uprooted. Of these, around 2 million have fled Iraq and flooded other countries, and 1.9 million are estimated to be refugees inside Iraq.
Roughly 40 percent of Iraq's middle class is believed to have fled, the U.N. said. Most are fleeing systematic persecution and have no desire to return. All kinds of people, from university professors to bakers, have been targeted by militias, insurgents and criminals. An estimated 331 school teachers were slain in the first four months of 2006, according to Human Rights Watch, and at least 2,000 Iraqi doctors have been killed and 250 kidnapped since the 2003 U.S. invasion.
A May 25, 2007 article notes that in the past seven months only 69 people from Iraq have been granted refugee status in the United States. As a result of growing international pressure, on June 1, 2007 the Bush administration said it was ready to admit 7,000 Iraqi refugees who had helped the coalition since the invasion. According to Washington based Refugees International the U.S. has admitted fewer than 800 Iraqi refugees since the invasion, Sweden had accepted 18,000 and Australia almost 6,000.
UNHCR reports that Christians comprise 44% of Iraqi refugees, although only 4% of the overall population is Christian. Iraq's Christian community numbered 1.4 million in 1980 at the start of Iran-Iraq War. But as the war has radicalized Islamic sensibilities, Christians' total numbers slumped to about 500,000, of whom 250,000 live in Baghdad.
Most ventured to Jordan and Syria, creating demographic shifts that have worried both governments. A fear persisted in both countries, and others hosting sizable Iraqi refugee populations, that sectarian tensions would spill over amongst the exiles. These refugees were estimated to have been leaving Iraq at a rate of 3000-per-day by December 2006.
The U.S. rationale for the Iraq War has faced heavy criticism from an array of popular and official sources both inside and outside the United States. Putting this controversy aside, both proponents and opponents of the invasion have also criticised the prosecution of the war effort along a number of lines. Most significantly, critics have assailed the U.S. and its allies for not devoting enough troops to the mission, not adequately planning for post-invasion Iraq, and for permitting and perpetrating widespread human rights abuses. As the war has progressed, critics have also railed against the high human and financial costs.
Some academics see such costs as inevitable until US foreign policy turns away from expanding US hegemony. Professor Chip Pitts accepts that an American empire exists, but argues that it is profoundly at odds with better instincts of US citizens and policymakers, and that rejecting neo-colonialism by military means as employed in the Iraq War is a prerequisite to restoring domestic civil liberties and human rights that have been infringed upon by an imperial presidency – while crucial, as well, to promoting peace and stability in the Middle East and other places of vital US interest. For Iraqi citizens, it seems that can't happen soon enough. When asked directly, 82–87% of the Iraqi populace is opposed to US occupation and want US troops to leave. 47% of Iraqis support attacking US troops. More Americans understand this now, as shown in the documetary film The Ground Truth which interviews American soldiers returning from Iraq and their families.
Inadequate troop levels
The troop level for the initial invasion of Iraq was controversial throughout the run-up to the war, particularly among U.S. military personnel. In 1999, then head of United States Central Command Marine General Anthony Zinni (ret.) organised a series of war games known as Desert Crossing in order to assess an invasion aimed at unseating Saddam Hussein. His plan, which predicted much of the violence and instability that followed the actual invasion, called for a force of 400,000 troops. Consistent with the Desert Crossing scenarios, the original U.S. army plan for the invasion of Iraq contemplated troop levels of up to 500,000, but Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared this plan "the product of old thinking and the embodiment of everything that was wrong with the military", and decided on an invasion force of approximately 130,000, bolstered by some 45,000 troops from the U.K. and a handful of troops from other nations. The plan to invade with a smaller force was publicly questioned by then Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, who, during a February 25, 2003 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, suggested that an invasion force would be "on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers." In a November 15, 2006 hearing of the same committee, General John Abizaid, then head of U.S. Central Command, confirmed that "General Shinseki was right that a greater international force contribution, U.S. force contribution and Iraqi force contribution should have been available immediately after major combat operations."
Insufficient post-invasion plans
In addition to raising questions about troop levels, critics of the Iraq War have argued that the U.S. planning for the post-invasion period was "woefully inadequate." In particular, critics have argued that the U.S. was unprepared for the widespread looting and the violent insurgency that immediately followed the invasion. Soon after the invasion, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, a leading architect of the war, acknowledged that the U.S. made assumptions related to the insurgency that "turned out to underestimate the problem."
The U.S. plans for reconstructing Iraq have also come under heavy fire. In a February 2006 report, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, wrote that: "There was insufficient systematic planning for human capital management in Iraq before and during the U.S.-directed stabilisation and reconstruction operations." Critics have particularly chastised the Pentagon, which was charged with preparing for the post-invasion period, for largely ignoring a $5 million study entitled the Future of Iraq Project, which the U.S. State Department compiled in the year preceding the invasion.
Human and financial costs
As the Iraq War has progressed from the relatively short invasion period to the considerably longer and more costly occupation, many critics have argued that the war is no longer worth the growing number of casualties among both U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians. For example, the U.S. organisation Gold Star Families for Peace, launched by anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan and other parents of soldiers killed in Iraq and other wars, advocates "bringing an end to the occupation of Iraq" by raising "awareness in the United States about the true human costs of the invasion/occupation of Iraq."
Just as the human costs have mounted, the total financial costs have also risen from the initial Bush Administration estimates of $50 billion to more than $400 billion total, most of it coming from the United States, but at least £4 billion from the United Kingdom. As the war bill has grown, many U.S. politicians, including some who supported the invasion, have begun to argue that its cost outweighs its benefits, and that it is jeopardising the preparedness of the U.S. Military. For example, on March 29, 2007, Nebraska Senators and longtime rivals Chuck Hagel (R-NB) and Ben Nelson (D-NB) released a joint statement saying that "there is now a 'significant' risk that the United States military will not be able to respond to an emerging crisis."
Adverse effect on global war on terror
In January, 2004, an Army War College report said the war diverts attention and resources from the threat posed by Al Qaeda. The report by Jeffrey Record, a visiting research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College, calls for downsizing the war on terrorism and focusing instead on the threat from Al Qaeda.
Negative impact on Israel
As early as October 2004, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Jewish support for the war had declined, due to fears of its negative impact on Israel, as well as the broader controversy.
Human rights abuses
Throughout the entire Iraq war there have been numerous human rights abuses on all sides of the conflict.
Allegations of serious human right abuses by Coalition forces include:
the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse
white phosphorus use in Iraq
the Haditha killings of 24 civilians in Haditha, including women and children (under investigation)
the murder of 11 civilians in Ishaqi, including five children (under investigation)
the kidnapping and murder of an Iraqi man named Hashim Ibrahim Awad (under investigation)
the gang-rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl and the murder of her family, in Mahmudiyah (under investigation)
the bombing and shooting of 42 civilians in Mukaradeeb
controversy over whether disproportionate force was used, during the assaults by Coalition and (mostly Shia and Kurdish) Iraqi government forces on the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Fallujah in 2004. Fatalities (both combatant and civilian) were estimated in the hundreds, and much of the city destroyed.
There have also been reported human rights abuses by some of the thousands of private military contractors working in Iraq. The most notorious case involving them was the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse.
Insurgent and militia forces have also committed numerous human rights violations including:
Killing over 12,000 Iraqis from January 2005 - June 2006, according to Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, giving the first official count for the victims of bombings, ambushes and other deadly attacks. The insurgents have also conducted numerous suicide attacks on the Iraqi civilian population, mostly targeting the majority Shia community. An October 2005 report from Human Rights Watch examines the range of civilian attacks and their purported justification.
Attacks on diplomats and diplomatic facilities including; the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003 killing the top U.N. representative in Iraq and 21 other UN staff members; beheading several diplomats: two Algerian diplomatic envoys Ali Belaroussi and Azzedine Belkadi, Egyptian diplomatic envoy al-Sherif, and four Russian diplomats.
The February 2006 bombing of the al-Askari Mosque, destroying one of the holiest Shiite shrines, killing over 165 worshipers and igniting sectarian strife and reprisal killings.
The publicised murders of several non-military personnel including; contractor Eugene Armstrong, contractor Jack Hensley, translator Kim Sun-il, contractor Kenneth Bigley, Bulgarian truck drivers Ivaylo Kepov and Georgi Lazov, Shosei Koda, Italian Fabrizio Quattrocchi, charity worker Margaret Hassan, reconstruction engineer Nick Berg, Italian photographer, 52 year old Salvatore Santoro and Iraqi supply worker Seif Adnan Kanaan. Most of these civilians were subjected to brutal torture and/or beheading.
Torture or murder of members of the New Iraqi Army, and assassination of civilians associated with the Coalition Provisional Authority, such as Fern Holland, or the Iraqi Governing Council, such as Aqila al-Hashimi and Ezzedine Salim, or other foreign civilians, such as those from Kenya.
Other abuses have been blamed on the new Iraqi government, including:
The use of torture by Iraqi security forces.
Shiite-run death squads run out of the Interior Ministry that are accused of committing numerous massacres of Sunni Arabs and the police collusion with militias in Iraq have compounded the problems.
International opinion of the war
According to a January 2007 BBC World Service poll of more than 26,000 people in 25 countries, 73% of the global population disapproves of the U.S. handling of the Iraq War According to an April 2004 USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll, only a third of the Iraqi people now believe that "the American-led occupation of their country is doing more good than harm, and a solid majority support an immediate military pullout even though they fear that could put them in greater danger." However, majorities in the U.K. and Canada believe the war in Iraq is "unjustified" and are critical of their government's support of U.S. policies in Iraq. According to polls conducted by The Arab American Institute, four years after the invasion of Iraq, 83% of Egyptians had a negative view of the U.S.'s role in Iraq; 68% of Saudi Arabians at a negative view; 96% of the Jordanian population had a negative view; 70% of the UAE and 76% of the Lebanese population also described their view as negative. The Pew Global Attitudes Project reports that in 2006 majorities in the Netherlands, Germany, Jordan, France, Lebanon, China, Spain, Indonesia, China, Turkey, Pakistan, and Morocco believed the world was safer before the Iraq War and the toppling of Saddam Hussein. However, majorities in the U.S., Canada, and Britain believe the world is safer without Saddam Hussein.
Iraqi opinion of U.S. presence
A WPO poll conducted on September 27, 2006, found that seven out of ten Iraqis want U.S.-led forces to withdraw from Iraq within one year. The perception that the U.S. presence in Iraq has a negative impact on security is widespread. Overall, 78% of those polled said they believed that the presence of U.S. forces is "provoking more conflict than it's preventing." 53% of those polled believed the Iraqi government would be strengthened if U.S. forces left Iraq. All of these positions are more prevalent amongst Sunni and Shia respondents than among Kurds. 61% of respondents said that they "approve" of attacks on U.S.-led forces.
A March 7, 2007 survey of more than 2,000 Iraqis commissioned by the BBC and three other news organisations found that 51% of the population consider attacks on coalition forces "acceptable", up from 17% in 2004 and 35% in 2006, varying somewhat from the WPO poll. The BBC poll also compiled the following figures from respondents:
64% described their family's economic situation as being somewhat or very bad, up from 30% in 2005
88% described the availability of electricity as being either somewhat or very bad, up from 65% in 2004.
69% described the availability of clean water as somewhat or very bad, up from 48% in 2004.
88% described the availability of fuel for cooking and driving as being somewhat or very bad.
58% described reconstruction efforts in the area in which they live as either somewhat or very ineffective, and 9% described them as being totally nonexistent.