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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.