The latest National Intelligence Estimate’s key judgments reached the same conclusion that the Center for American Progress reached last October: that Iraq was worse than simply a civil war because there are at least four major internal conflicts ongoing.
The NIE identifies Muqtada Al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army as one of the “very effective accelerators” of Iraq’s civil war. Reporting from Baghdad, Tom Lasseter of McClatchy Newspapers said that many American junior officers are convinced that the Bush military escalation in Iraq will actually hand over portions of Baghdad to Iraqi security forces infiltrated by the Mehdi Army.
Infiltration is a major problem that President Bush’s plan fails to adequately address. The independent Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reported earlier this week that U.S. commander estimates that 20-25% of the Iraqi national police “needed to be weeded out.”
In effect, the Bush escalation plan risks handing over territory to forces loyal to Shiite radical cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, further accelerating Iraq’s civil war and doing nothing to bridge the growing divides among Iraqis.
– Brian Katulis and Peter Juul