Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Reality Alert

It seems that one US government department has not been able to ignore the realities of daily life in Iraq. Originally reported in the Washington Post and covered today in the Guardina, USAID, the official US foreign aid agency, has published its assessment of the security situation in Iraq. The analysis was in an annex attached to a document inviting contractors to bid for reconstruction projects in Iraqi cities. This assessment was published on 2nd January this year.

Selected quotes from the WP article:
  • Although President Bush and senior administration officials tend to see the enemy primarily as Saddam Hussein loyalists and foreign terrorists, the USAID analysis also places emphasis on "internecine conflict," which includes "religious-sectarian, ethnic, tribal, criminal and politically based" violence.
  • "It is increasingly common for tribesmen to 'turn in' to the authorities enemies as insurgents, this as a form of tribal revenge," the paper says.
  • The paper describes how in the southern part of Iraq, which is dominated by Shiites, "social liberties have been curtailed dramatically by roving bands of self-appointed religious-moral police." In cities, women's dress codes are enforced and barbers who remove facial hair have been killed, and liquor stores and clubs have been bombed.
  • The breakdown of Iraqi society and "the absence of state control and an effective police force" have let "criminal elements within Iraqi society have almost free rein," the paper states. Iraqi criminals in some cases "have aligned themselves with most of the combating groups and factions to further their aims" and Baghdad "is reportedly divided into zones controlled by organized criminal groups-clans," it states.
  • "As political parties regain importance in the emerging democracy, there is an increased risk they may devolve into conflict groups," the paper warns.
That this should be a US government department's assessment is quite extraordinary. The liberal media have been all over this. Right?

An unscientific test courtesy of Google News appears to suggest that the Washington Post, the Guardian, and about five or six other organisations worldwide have bothered to mention this analysis at the time of writing. Yes, those evil media types just can't pass up an opportunity to have a go at President Bush and his administration. All 8 of them.

The Guardian do give voice to an alternative explanation for this report:
Judith Yaphe, a former CIA expert on Iraq now teaching at the National Defence University in Washington, said... USAid could have published the document to pressure the White House to increase its funding.
Because we know that publicly questioning the US administration's fictitious version of the situation is a great way to get the President on your side. Oh yes, that's very convincing.

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