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"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: Noman
Full Name: Noman Zafar
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Text of U.S. Security Adviser's Iraq Memo

Following is the text of a Nov. 8 memorandum prepared for cabinet-level officials by Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, and his aides on the National Security Council. The five-page document, classified secret, was read and transcribed by The New York Times.

11/19/06 "New York Times" -- -- We returned from Iraq convinced we need to determine if Prime Minister Maliki is both willing and able to rise above the sectarian agendas being promoted by others. Do we and Prime Minister Maliki share the same vision for Iraq? If so, is he able to curb those who seek Shia hegemony or the reassertion of Sunni power? The answers to these questions are key in determining whether we have the right strategy in Iraq.

Maliki reiterated a vision of Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish partnership, and in my one-on-one meeting with him, he impressed me as a leader who wanted to be strong but was having difficulty figuring out how to do so. Maliki pointed to incidents, such as the use of Iraqi forces in Shia Karbala, to demonstrate his even hand. Perhaps because he is frustrated over his limited ability to command Iraqi forces against terrorists and insurgents, Maliki has been trying to show strength by standing up to the coalition. Hence the public spats with us over benchmarks and the Sadr City roadblocks.

Despite Maliki's reassuring words, repeated reports from our commanders on the ground contributed to our concerns about Maliki's government. Reports of nondelivery of services to Sunni areas, intervention by the prime minister's office to stop military action against Shia targets and to encourage them against Sunni ones, removal of Iraq's most effective commanders on a sectarian basis and efforts to ensure Shia majorities in all ministries "” when combined with the escalation of Jaish al-Mahdi's (JAM) [the Arabic name for the Mahdi Army] killings "” all suggest a campaign to consolidate Shia power in Baghdad.

While there does seem to be an aggressive push to consolidate Shia power and influence, it is less clear whether Maliki is a witting participant. The information he receives is undoubtedly skewed by his small circle of Dawa advisers, coloring his actions and interpretation of reality. His intentions seem good when he talks with Americans, and sensitive reporting suggests he is trying to stand up to the Shia hierarchy and force positive change. But the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action.

Steps Maliki Could Take

There is a range of actions that Maliki could take to improve the information he receives, demonstrate his intentions to build an Iraq for all Iraqis and increase his capabilities. The actions listed below are in order of escalating difficulty and, at some point, may require additional political and security resources to execute, as described on Page 3 of this memo. Maliki should:

¶Compel his ministers to take small steps "” such as providing health services and opening bank branches in Sunni neighborhoods "” to demonstrate that his government serves all ethnic communities;

¶Bring his political strategy with Moktada al-Sadr to closure and bring to justice any JAM actors that do not eschew violence;

¶Shake up his cabinet by appointing nonsectarian, capable technocrats in key service (and security) ministries;

¶Announce an overhaul of his own personal staff so that "it reflects the face of Iraq";

¶Demand that all government workers (in ministries, the Council of Representatives and his own offices) publicly renounce all violence for the pursuit of political goals as a condition for keeping their positions;

¶Declare that Iraq will support the renewal of the U.N. mandate for multinational forces and will seek, as appropriate, to address bilateral issues with the United States through a SOFA [status of forces agreement] to be negotiated over the next year;

¶Take one or more immediate steps to inject momentum back into the reconciliation process, such as a suspension of de-Baathification measures and the submission to the Parliament or "Council of Representatives" of a draft piece of legislation for a more judicial approach;

¶Announce plans to expand the Iraqi Army over the next nine months; and

¶Declare the immediate suspension of suspect Iraqi police units and a robust program of embedding coalition forces into MOI [Ministry of the Interior] units while the MOI is revetted and retrained.

What We Can Do to Help Maliki

If Maliki is willing to move decisively on the actions above, we can help him in a variety of ways. We should be willing to:

¶Continue to target Al Qaeda and insurgent strongholds in Baghdad to demonstrate the Shia do not need the JAM to protect their families "” and that we are a reliable partner;

¶Encourage Zal [Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador] to move into the background and let Maliki take more credit for positive developments. (We want Maliki to exert his authority "” and demonstrate to Iraqis that he is a strong leader "” by taking action against extremists, not by pushing back on the United States and the Coalition.);

¶Continue our diplomatic efforts to keep the Sunnis in the political process by pushing for the negotiation of a national compact and by talking up provincial council elections next spring/summer as a mechanism for Sunni empowerment;

¶Support his announcement to expand the Iraqi Army and reform the MOI more aggressively;

¶Seek ways to strengthen Maliki immediately by giving him additional control over Iraqi forces, although we must recognize that in the immediate time frame, we would likely be able to give him more authority over existing forces, not more forces;

¶Continue to pressure Iran and Syria to end their interference in Iraq, in part by hitting back at Iranian proxies in Iraq and by Secretary Rice holding an Iraq-plus-neighbors meeting in the region in early December; and

¶Step up our efforts to get Saudi Arabia to take a leadership role in supporting Iraq by using its influence to move Sunni populations in Iraq out of violence into politics, to cut off any public or private funding provided to the insurgents or death squads from the region and to lean on Syria to terminate its support for Baathists and insurgent leaders.

Augmenting Maliki's Political and Security Capabilities

The above approach may prove difficult to execute even if Maliki has the right intentions. He may simply not have the political or security capabilities to take such steps, which risk alienating his narrow Sadrist political base and require a greater number of more reliable forces. Pushing Maliki to take these steps without augmenting his capabilities could force him to failure "” if the Parliament removes him from office with a majority vote or if action against the Mahdi militia (JAM) causes elements of the Iraqi Security Forces to fracture and leads to major Shia disturbances in southern Iraq. We must also be mindful of Maliki's personal history as a figure in the Dawa Party "” an underground conspiratorial movement "” during Saddam's rule. Maliki and those around him are naturally inclined to distrust new actors, and it may take strong assurances from the United States ultimately to convince him to expand his circle of advisers or take action against the interests of his own Shia coalition and for the benefit of Iraq as a whole.

If it is Maliki's assessment that he does not have the capability "” politically or militarily "” to take the steps outlined above, we will need to work with him to augment his capabilities. We could do so in two ways. First, we could help him form a new political base among moderate politicians from Sunni, Shia, Kurdish and other communities. Ideally, this base would constitute a new parliamentary bloc that would free Maliki from his current narrow reliance on Shia actors. (This bloc would not require a new election, but would rather involve a realignment of political actors within the Parliament). In its creation, Maliki would need to be willing to risk alienating some of his Shia political base and may need to get the approval of Ayatollah Sistani for actions that could split the Shia politically. Second, we need to provide Maliki with additional forces of some kind.

This approach would require that we take steps beyond those laid out above, to include:

¶Actively support Maliki in helping him develop an alternative political base. We would likely need to use our own political capital to press moderates to align themselves with Maliki's new political bloc;

¶Consider monetary support to moderate groups that have been seeking to break with larger, more sectarian parties, as well as to support Maliki himself as he declares himself the leader of his bloc and risks his position within Dawa and the Sadrists; and

¶Provide Maliki with more resources to help build a nonsectarian national movement.

"¢ If we expect him to adopt a nonsectarian security agenda, we must ensure he has reasonably nonsectarian security institutions to execute it "” such as through a more robust embedding program.

"¢ We might also need to fill the current four-brigade gap in Baghdad with coalition forces if reliable Iraqi forces are not identified.

Moving Ahead

We should waste no time in our efforts to determine Maliki's intentions and, if necessary, to augment his capabilities. We might take the following steps immediately:

¶Convince Maliki to deliver on key actions that might reassure Sunnis (open banks and direct electricity rebuilding in Sunni areas, depoliticize hospitals);

¶Tell Maliki that we understand that he is working his own strategy for dealing with the Sadrists and that:

"¢ you have asked General Casey to support Maliki in this effort

"¢ it is important that we see some tangible results in this strategy soon;

¶Send your personal representative to Baghdad to discuss this strategy with Maliki and to press other leaders to work with him, especially if he determines that he must build an alternative political base;

¶Ask Casey to develop a plan to empower Maliki, including:

"¢ Formation of National Strike Forces

"¢ Dramatic increase in National Police embedding

"¢ More forces under Maliki command and control

¶Ask Secretary of Defense and General Casey to make a recommendation about whether more forces are need in Baghdad;

¶Ask Secretary of Defense and General Casey to devise a more robust embedding plan and a plan to resource it;

¶Direct your cabinet to begin an intensive press on Saudi Arabia to play a leadership role on Iraq, connecting this role with other areas in which Saudi Arabia wants to see U.S. action;

¶If Maliki seeks to build an alternative political base:

"¢ Press Sunni and other Iraqi leaders (especially Hakim) [Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Maliki rival] to support Maliki

"¢ Engage Sistani to reassure and seek his support for a new nonsectarian political movement.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

 Reply:   Iraq Panel to Recommend Pullba
Replied by(Noman) Replied on (1/Dec/2006)
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group reached a consensus on Wednesday on a final report that will call for a gradual pullback of the 15 American combat brigades now in Iraq but stop short of sett

Iraq Panel to Recommend Pullback of Combat Troops

By DAVID E. SANGER and DAVID S. CLOUD

11/30/06 "
New York Times" -- -- WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 "” The bipartisan Iraq Study Group reached a consensus on Wednesday on a final report that will call for a gradual pullback of the 15 American combat brigades now in Iraq but stop short of setting a firm timetable for their withdrawal, according to people familiar with the panel's deliberations.

The report, unanimously approved by the 10-member panel, led by James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton, is to be delivered to President Bush next week. It is a compromise between distinct paths that the group has debated since March, avoiding a specific timetable, which has been opposed by Mr. Bush, but making it clear that the American troop commitment should not be open-ended. The recommendations of the group, formed at the request of members of Congress, are nonbinding.

A person who participated in the commission's debate said that unless the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki believed that Mr. Bush was under pressure to pull back troops in the near future, "there will be zero sense of urgency to reach the political settlement that needs to be reached."

The report recommends that Mr. Bush make it clear that he intends to start the withdrawal relatively soon, and people familiar with the debate over the final language said the implicit message was that the process should begin sometime next year.

The report leaves unstated whether the 15 combat brigades that are the bulk of American fighting forces in Iraq would be brought home, or simply pulled back to bases in Iraq or in neighboring countries. (A brigade typically consists of 3,000 to 5,000 troops.) From those bases, they would still be responsible for protecting a substantial number of American troops who would remain in Iraq, including 70,000 or more American trainers, logistics experts and members of a rapid reaction force.

As the commission wound up two and a half days of deliberation in Washington, the group said in a public statement only that a consensus had been reached and that the report would be delivered next Wednesday to President Bush, Congress and the American public. Members of the commission were warned by Mr. Baker and Mr. Hamilton not to discuss the contents of the report.

But four people involved in the debate, representing different points of view, agreed to outline its conclusions in broad terms to address what they said might otherwise be misperceptions about the findings. Some said their major concern was that the report might be too late.

"I think we've played a constructive role," one person involved in the committee's deliberations said, "but from the beginning, we've worried that this entire agenda could be swept away by events."

Even as word of the study group's conclusions began to leak out, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said two or three battalions of American troops were being sent to Baghdad from elsewhere in Iraq to assist in shoring up security there. Another Pentagon official said the additional troops for Baghdad would be drawn from a brigade in Mosul equipped with fast-moving, armored Stryker vehicles.

As described by the people involved in the deliberations, the bulk of the report by the Baker-Hamilton group focused on a recommendation that the United States devise a far more aggressive diplomatic initiative in the Middle East than Mr. Bush has been willing to try so far, including direct engagement with Iran and Syria. Initially, those contacts might be part of a regional conference on Iraq or broader Middle East peace issues, like the Israeli-Palestinian situation, but they would ultimately involve direct, high-level talks with Tehran and Damascus.

Mr. Bush has rejected such contacts until now, and he has also rejected withdrawal, declaring in Riga, Latvia, on Tuesday that while he will show flexibility, "there's one thing I'm not going to do: I'm not going to pull the troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete."

Commission members have said in recent days that they had to navigate around such declarations, or, as one said, "We had to move the national debate from whether to stay the course to how do we start down the path out."

Their report, as described by those familiar with the compromise, may give Republicans political cover to back away from parts of the president's current strategy, even if Democrats claim that the report is short on specific deadlines.

While the White House reviews its strategy options, Pentagon planners are also looking beyond the immediate reinforcements for Baghdad to the question of whether they will need to draw more on reserve units to meet troop requirements in the Iraqi capital, military officials said. In particular, the Army is considering sending about 3,000 combat engineers from reserve units.

The proposal would not increase the overall number of troops in Baghdad, but it is controversial because it would require sending units that had already been deployed to Iraq in recent years, a step National Guard officials have been trying to avoid.

The move has not been approved by the Bush administration, but the decision could be made in the coming weeks, and the first of the additional troops may begin arriving in Iraq by next spring, officials said.

American military officials said that the forces in Iraq that were being shifted to Baghdad were to take the place of the 172nd Stryker Brigade, which is returning to its base in Alaska, and that there would be no increase in American forces in the Iraqi capital. In fact, one officer said there might be a brief decrease until the adjustments were completed.

As the Iraq Study Group finished its meetings in Washington, it heard final testimony from Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, a Democrat who has urged a specific timeline for withdrawal, and Senator John McCain of Arizona, who has called for a significant bolstering of troops to gain control of the Iraqi capital. Two former secretaries of state, Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Shultz, also spoke to the group as it debated its final conclusions.

Although the diplomatic strategy takes up the majority of the report, it was the military recommendations that prompted the most debate, people familiar with the deliberations said. They said a draft report put together under the direction of Mr. Baker and Mr. Hamilton had collided with another, circulated by other Democrats on the commission, that included an explicit timeline calling for withdrawal of the combat brigades to be completed by the end of next year. In the end, the two proposals were blended.

If Mr. Bush adopts the recommendations, far more American training teams will be embedded with Iraqi forces, a last-ditch effort to make the Iraqi Army more capable of fighting alone. That is a step already embraced in a memorandum that Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, wrote to the president this month.

"I think everyone felt good about where we ended up," one person involved in the commission's debates said after the group ended its meeting. "It is neither "˜cut and run' nor "˜stay the course.' "

"Those who favor immediate withdrawal will not like it," he said, but it also "deviates significantly from the president's strategy."

The report also would offer military commanders "” and therefore the president "” great flexibility to determine the timing and phasing of the pullback of the combat brigades.

Throughout the debates, Mr. Baker, who served as secretary of state under Mr. Bush's father and was the central figure in developing the strategy to win the 2000 Florida recount for Mr. Bush, was highly reluctant to allow a timetable for withdrawal to be included in the report, participants said.

Mr. Baker cited what Mr. Bush had also called a danger: that any firm deadline would be an invitation to insurgents and sectarian groups to bide their time until the last American troops were withdrawn, then seek to overthrow the government. But Democrats on the commission also suspected that Mr. Baker was reluctant to embarrass the president by embracing a strategy Mr. Bush had repeatedly rejected.

Committee members struggled with ways, short of a deadline, to signal to the Iraqis that Washington would not prop up the government with military forces endlessly, and that if sectarian warfare continued the pressure to withdraw American forces would become overwhelming. What they ended up with appears to be a classic Washington compromise: a report that sets no explicit timetable but, between the lines, appears to have one built in.

As one senior American military officer involved in Iraq strategy said, "The question is whether it doesn't look like a timeline to Bush, and does to Maliki."

In addition to Mr. Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman, the group includes two Democrats who are veterans of the Clinton administration, Leon E. Panetta and William J. Perry, and a Clinton adviser, Vernon E. Jordan Jr. Charles S. Robb, former Democratic governor of Virginia, and Alan K. Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, are also on the panel, along with Sandra Day O'Connor, a former Supreme Court justice who was nominated by President Reagan.

Other members includes Edwin Meese III, who served as attorney general under Mr. Reagan, and Lawrence S. Eagleburger, a former secretary of state under Mr. Bush's father. Mr. Eagleburger replaced Robert M. Gates, who resigned when he was nominated to be the next secretary of defense.

If confirmed he will have to carry out whatever change of military strategy, if any, Mr. Bush embraces.

Michael R. Gordon contributed reporting.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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