Viable Peace in Iraq Remains Elusive as Sectarian Conflict Remains a Real Threat

Published October 12th, 2009 - 02:43 GMT

In A Viable Peace?, the ninth report in its series tracking progress in Iraq, The Fund for Peace (FfP) warns that Iraq still risks a return to serious conflict if deep-seated inequalities and political divisions are not addressed. The report covers the period July 2008 to August 2009.

In its previous report, "The Surge: What Comes Next?" the FfP concluded that the "surge" of 30,000 American troops had been less successful at achieving the overarching political goals of sectarian reconciliation, economic development and good governance than in reaching military goals.(1) The same largely holds true one year later, despite improvements in security. Though casualty figures have fallen dramatically since they peaked in 2004-2006, violence persists, including a post-surge rise in bombing and assassinations as the U.S. draws down its troops and the country prepares for another election in January, 2010.

Most importantly, the report highlights that Iraq has yet to reach the threshold of a "viable peace," in which there is high confidence that the trajectory of progress, is sufficient for local authorities to sustain improvements. Among the current challenges facing the Iraqi leadership are: severe demographic pressures from droughts and four million internally displaced persons and refugees who have not been adequately resettled; pervasive corruption at all levels of government and commercial activities; renewed ethnic tensions between Arab and Kurdish communities as well as persistent rivalries, both between and within, Sunni and Shiite communities; human rights violations by security forces and militias which operate with impunity; stalled government reforms and legislation; faltering public services; and neighboring states staking out new avenues of influence. The report contains graphs that show improvements and shortfalls, including how far Iraq needs to go to reach the zone of viable peace.

"These problems must be resolved by Iraqis, not American military forces," stated Pauline H. Baker, president of The Fund for Peace and the report's author. "A viable peace may still be possible, but to avoid backsliding, Iraq must focus on institution-building, political reconciliation, public accountability and better provision of public services. And they must do so soon. The upcoming election could be a pivotal turning point. Either it will solidify progress or expose the simmering sectarian divisions, like elections did in Kenya, Afghanistan, and Iran."

For a copy of the abridged report, go to:


For a copy of the full report, go to: Itemid=377

(1) See Pauline H.Baker, "The Surge: What Comes Next? Report #8, 2003-2008", The Fund for Peace: Washington D.C., 2008.

Contact: Pauline H. Baker, Tel: 202-223-7946; E-mail:

The Fund for Peace is an independent research and educational organization based in Washington DC. Visit The Fund for Peace website at

Source: Fund for Peace

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