News

    Iraq War Anniversary Marked by Creation of New Government in Baghdad

    The second anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq is Saturday March 19 and the date arrives as a new government is being formed in Baghdad. U.S. military officials and Middle East analysts say although progress is being made against a stubborn insurgency, it may take years before the security situation and the political process in Iraq are completely stabilized.

    After millions of Iraqis went to the polls earlier this year, U.S. and Iraqi leaders reported a boost in civic pride across the country.

    While the violent insurgency continues in some parts of the nation, interim leaders are hoping the creation of a government will weaken support for militants responsible for attacks on coalition troops and Iraqi security forces and civilians.

    The transitional assembly has until August 15 to draft a new constitution that is to be voted on in a nationwide referendum by October 15.

    Elections for a permanent government are to be held in December, with elected officials to take office by the end of this year.

    President Bush says he is encouraged by the political process in Iraq.

    "The recent elections have begun a process of debate and coalition building unique in Iraqi history and inspiring to see," said George W. Bush. "Iraq's leaders are forming a government that will oversee the next and critical state in Iraq's political transition, the writing of a permanent constitution. This process must take place without external influence. The shape of Iraq's democracy must be determined by the Iraqis themselves."

    While explosions are nearly a daily part of life in some parts of Iraq, U.S. military officials say coalition forces are having success against insurgents. There are about 50 to 60 attacks per day, but the Pentagon says that is down from about 300 attempted attacks on Election Day, January 30.

    U.S. military officials say while insurgents are capable of launching devastating attacks, many of their leaders have been killed or captured in the past year.

    "We're actually a little further along than I thought we would be at this point," said General George Casey.

    U.S. General George Casey is the commander of multinational forces in Iraq. He says while his men are making progress, military action alone will not defeat the insurgency.

    "That is not something that we're ultimately going to defeat militarily," he said. "The people that are supporting and doing these attacks are going to be drawn into, hopefully, drawn into the political process, and that will take some air out of the insurgency."

    Michael O'Hanlon is a senior fellow for foreign policy studies at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

    Mr. O'Hanlon says while the insurgency gained strength since the first anniversary of the Iraq war, it is now showing signs of weakening.

    "The last year in particular has seen, first, a great intensification of the insurgency but, at the very end of it, perhaps a slight reduction in its strength and its lethality," said Michael O'Hanlon. "And of course, then, the preparation for the elections, which took place in early 2005 and, essentially, commemorated the end of the second year and finished it on a much more positive political note. So we see an economy that is still struggling, although gradually improving. We see Iraqi security forces that are still in their very fledgling state, although at least starting to get better. And we see a political process that is far from resolved, but at least hopeful."

    Mr. O'Hanlon says a key measure of success for the rest of this year is the acceleration of training of Iraqi troops and security services which, he says, should allow the gradual withdrawal of some coalition forces in 2006.

    Pentagon officials say about 140,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained so far, although most are not yet capable of conducting independent operations.

    While some reconstruction plans have been slowed because of the insurgency, U.S. defense officials say there has been a significant increase in the number of projects and amount of money being spent in Iraq.

    In June of last year about 200 projects valued at about $1 billion were underway.

    Currently, Pentagon officials say, there is work on about two-thousand projects worth about $5 billion.

    Anthony Cordesman is a senior military analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

    He is the author of two recent books on Iraq and is the former director of intelligence assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

    Mr. Cordesman says it will take years to stabilize the security and political process in Iraq.

    "So what we watch is a year or two years in which this government will either become effective or it won't," said Anthony Cordesman. "Iraqi forces will emerge that can take over much of the mission, if not most of it, or they won't. And if we are not patient enough to understand it is going to take that much time, and we keep looking for some kind of magic indicator that can't possibly exist, we are going to live in a fantasy world of self-inflicted illusions."

    Mr. Cordesman says among the positive developments in Iraq is that within the Iraqi political structure various factions have generally held together, and are showing a willingness to cooperate.

    He says if the different ethnic groups continue along this path, an effective and credible government should begin to emerge.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora