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GAO says U.S. isn’t using dropoff in Iraq violence

Wed., Oct. 31, 2007

WASHINGTON – The U.S. and Iraqi governments have failed to take advantage of a dramatic drop in violence in Iraq, according to a report issued Tuesday by a U.S. watchdog agency, which warned that prospects were waning “for achieving current U.S. security, political and economic goals in Iraq.”

Iraqi leaders have not passed legislation to foster reconciliation among Shiite Muslims, Sunnis and Kurds, and sectarian groups still retain control of ministries and divide Iraqi security forces, according to the Government Accountability Office report.

Moreover, the Bush administration’s efforts to stabilize and rebuild Iraq are plagued by weak planning, a lack of coordination with the Iraqi government and among U.S. agencies, and an absence of detailed information on “the current and future costs of U.S. involvement in Iraq,” it said.

“U.S. efforts lack strategies with clear purpose, scope, roles and performance measures,” the report said.The findings raise questions about whether the increase of U.S. troops that began last February will ultimately achieve the goal of giving Iraqi political leaders enough of a respite from violence that they can work to resolve Iraq’s many problems. The report comes as the Democrat-controlled Congress begins weighing President Bush’s request for another $196 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The GAO report, delivered to a House of Representatives subcommittee, cited a major drop in the number of enemy attacks on U.S.-led coalition troops and Iraqi security forces.

There were about 3,000 such attacks in September, compared with some 5,300 in June, the report said.

Despite the drop, however, the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has made only “limited progress” toward passing legislation designed to foster national reconciliation, the report said.

None of the most crucial bills has been approved, it said.


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