Iraq

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Overview
Iraq has been the focus of the United States’ two most significant international conflicts in the last 20 years. Following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, the United States forged an international coalition to defend Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states from further Iraqi aggression and launched a counter-offensive that drove Iraq’s army out of Kuwait, wounding the power of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The US was well-positioned to drive Hussein out of Baghdad, but the administration of George H. W. Bush chose instead to leave the despot in place. In 1998, Bush co-authored a book with his National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, entitled A World Transformed. In chapter 19 they wrote about the first Gulf War, “Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq… would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible….We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under the circumstances, there was no viable ‘exit strategy’ we could see, violating another of our principles…. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.”
 
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, George W. Bush ignored his father’s warnings and set out to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Arguing that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and was working with al Qaeda, the terrorist organization behind 9/11, President Bush ordered US forces to invade Iraq a second time, in March 2003. In a few short weeks, the US seized control of the country and drove Saddam Hussein into hiding. Bush declared victory and proclaimed that the US would make Iraq a model of democracy in the Middle East. Instead, the country spiraled into a hellish multi-facted civil war, with the American occupying forces caught in the middle. Eventually thousands of US soldiers would lose their lives and tens of thousands more would come home wounded. No evidence of WMDs or of Iraq’s complicity with al Qaeda ever surfaced. Even more Iraqis died at the hands of terrorist activities committed by Shiite and Sunni factions, raising questions among Iraqis and Americans about the usefulness of keeping US forces in the country. The unpopularity of the war was considered a prime factor in the downfall of the Republican Party in the 2006 midterm elections and a key reason why the GOP failed to retain the White House in the November 2008 election won by Democrat Barack Obama.
 
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Iraq, known historically in the West as Mesopotamia, is located in southwestern Asia and borders the Persian Gulf on the south. Its twin river system, the Tigris-Euphrates, empties into the Persian Gulf. Iraq is largely desert and flood plain, but to the north and east are high mountain ranges. Most Iraqis live along the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates.

 
Population: 28.2 million
 
Religions: Shi'a Muslim 64%, Sunni Muslim 33%, Christian (Chaldean Catholics, Church of the East, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant) 2%, other (Yezidi, Sabean-Mandaean, Baha'i, Shakbak, Kaka'i) 1%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian, or other 5%.
 
Languages: Mesopotamian Arabic 45.3%, North Mesopotamian Arabic 21.3%, Kurdish (Central, Northern, Southern) 12.8%, Najdi Arabic 3.5%, South Azerbaijani 2.4%, Western Farsi 0.9%, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic 0.5%, Gulf Arabic 0.2%, Armenian 0.2%, Judeo-Iraqi Arabic 0.001%, Arabic (official). There are 21 living languages in Iraq.
 

 

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History
In ancient times Iraq was known as Mesopotamia (land between the rivers) because it is home to where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers come together. An advanced civilization existed by 4000 BC. Sometime after 2000 BC the land became the center of the ancient Babylonian and Assyrian empires. Mesopotamia was conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia in 538 BC and by Alexander the Great in 331 BC. After an Arab conquest in 637–640, Baghdad became the capital of the ruling caliphate. The country was pillaged by the Mongols in 1258, and during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, it was the object of repeated Turkish-Persian competition.
 
During World War I, Great Britain occupied most of Mesopotamia and was given a mandate over the area in 1920. The British renamed the area Iraq and recognized it as a kingdom in 1922. In 1932, the monarchy achieved full independence. Britain again occupied Iraq during World War II because of its pro-Axis stance in the initial years of the war.
 
Iraq became a charter member of the Arab League in 1945, and Iraqi troops took part in the Arab invasion of Palestine in 1948, marking the first Arab-Israeli war.
 
King Faisal II and his uncle, Crown Prince Abdul-Illah, were assassinated in July 1958 in a revolutionary coup that ended the monarchy and brought to power a military junta headed by Abdul Karem Kassim. The military regime reversed the monarchy’s pro-Western policies and began to form alliances with Communist countries, including the Soviet Union.
 
Kassim was overthrown and killed in a coup staged on March 8, 1963, by the military and the Baath Socialist Party. The Baath Party advocated secularism, pan-Arabism, and socialism. The following year, the new leader, Abdel Salam Arif, consolidated his power by driving out the Baath Party. In 1966, he died in a helicopter crash. His brother, Gen. Abdel Rahman Arif, assumed the presidency, crushed the opposition, and won an indefinite extension of his term in 1967.
 
Arif’s regime was ousted in July 1968 by a junta led by Maj. Gen. Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr of the Baath Party. Bakr and his second-in-command, Saddam Hussein, imposed authoritarian rule. A leading producer of oil in the world, Iraq used its oil revenues to develop one of the strongest military forces in the region.
 
On July 16, 1979, Bakr was succeeded by Saddam Hussein, whose regime steadily developed an international reputation for strict internal security, repression, human rights abuses, and terrorism. A long-standing territorial dispute over control of the Shatt-al-Arab waterway between Iraq and Iran broke into full-scale war on September 20, 1980, when Iraq invaded western Iran. The eight-year war cost the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people and finally ended in a UN-brokered cease-fire in 1988. Poison gas was used by Iraqi forces on Iranian soldiers and civilians and Kurds, including the horrific Mrach 1988 attack on Halabja, which reportedly killed thousands.
 
In July 1990, Hussein asserted territorial claims on Kuwaiti land. A mediation attempt by Arab leaders failed, and on August 2, 1990, Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait and set up a puppet government. The UN imposed trade sanctions against Iraq to pressure it to withdraw. On January 18, 1991, UN forces, under the leadership of US General Norman Schwarzkopf, launched Operation Desert Storm, liberating Kuwait in less than a week. UN forces suffered minimal casualties, while Iraqi deaths ranged from 20,000 to 200,000, depending on the source.
 
While Iraq was reeling from the US-led assault on its military, rebellions by both Shiites and Kurds were encouraged by American agents. These rebellions were brutally crushed when the US refused to step in and help. In 1991, the UN set up a northern no-fly zone to protect Iraq’s Kurdish population. The following year a southern no-fly zone was established as a buffer between Iraq and Kuwait and to protect Shiites. The US and Great Britain effectively implemented the no-fly zones and Saddam Hussein’s power was severely diminished.
 
UN trade sanctions continued after the end of the Gulf War, barring Iraq from selling oil except in exchange for food and medicine. The sanctions against Iraq failed to bring about a change in leadership, as the US had hoped, but they did cause catastrophic suffering among the Iraqi people. The country's infrastructure was in ruins, and disease, malnutrition, and the infant mortality rate skyrocketed.
 
A UN weapons inspections team was mandated to inspect Iraqi facilities and labs to make sure no weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, biological) and ballistic arms were still in possession of Iraq after the war. In November 1997, Hussein expelled the American members of the UN inspections team, a standoff that stretched on until February 1998. In August, Hussein halted all UN inspections. On December 16, the United States and Britain began Operation Desert Fox, consisting of four days of intensive air strikes. From then on, the US and Britain conducted hundreds of air strikes on Iraqi targets within the no-fly zones. The sustained low-level warfare continued unabated into 2003.
 
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the US, President George W. Bush began calling for a “regime change” in Iraq, describing the nation as part of an “axis of evil.” The alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction, the thwarting of UN weapons inspections, Iraq’s alleged links to terrorism (including al Qaeda), as well as Saddam Hussein’s despotism and human rights abuses were the major reasons cited for necessitating a preemptive strike against the country. The Arab world and much of Europe condemned the hawkish and unilateral stance and suspected that Bush and his administration were really after Iraq’s oil. The UK, however, supported the US. On September 12, 2002, Bush addressed the UN, challenging the organization to swiftly enforce its own resolutions against Iraq, or else the US would act on its own. On November 8, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution imposing tough new arms inspections on Iraq, which began weeks later.
 
The UN reported at the end of January 2003 that “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it.” While the Bush administration felt the report cemented its claim that a military solution was imperative, several permanent members of the UN Security Council—France, Russia, and China—urged that the UN inspectors be given more time to complete their task. Bush and Blair continued to call for war, insisting that they would go ahead with a “coalition of the willing,” if not with UN support. All diplomatic efforts ceased by March 17, when President Bush delivered an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave the country within 48 hours.
 
On March 20, the war against Iraq began with the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Within three weeks, American forces took control of the capital, Baghdad, signaling the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, although the Iraqi dictator was nowhere to be found. After eight months of searching, the US military captured Saddam Hussein on December 13. In December 2006, he was tried, found guilty of crimes against humanity and executed.
 
Turmoil and violence in Iraq increased throughout 2004, as Sunni and Shiites battled for power, and opposition to the US occupation grew. Civilians, Iraqi security forces, foreign workers, and coalition soldiers were subject to suicide bombings, kidnappings, and beheadings. By April, a number of separate uprisings had spread throughout the Sunni triangle and in the Shiite-dominated south. In September alone there were 2,300 attacks by insurgents.
 
Reconstruction efforts, hampered by bureaucracy and security concerns, fell short of US expectations. Electricity and clean water were in short supply, and half of Iraq’s employable population was still without work. In late April, the physical and sexual abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad came to light when photographs were released by the US media. The images sparked outrage around the world.
 
On June 28, 2004, the US allowed its Iraqi allies to establish a new government. Former exile and Iraqi Government Council member Iyad Allawi became prime minister of the Iraqi interim government, and Ghazi al-Yawar, a Sunni Muslim, was chosen president.
 
In January 2005 elections were held to select a 275-seat national assembly. A coalition of Shiites, the United Iraq Alliance, received 48% of the vote, the Kurdish parties received 26% of the vote, and the Sunnis just 2%—due to the fact that most Sunni leaders had called for a boycott. In April, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, became president, and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a religious Shiite, prime minister. The elections, however, did not stem the insurgency, which grew increasingly sectarian during 2005 and predominantly involved Sunni insurgents targeting Shiite and Kurdish civilians in suicide bombings. The death toll for Iraqi civilians was estimated to have reached 30,000 since the start of the war.
 
In August 2005, after three months of fractious negotiations, Iraqi lawmakers completed a draft constitution that supported the aims of Shiites and Kurds, but was deeply unsatisfactory to the Sunnis. In October a constitutional referendum narrowly passed, making way for parliamentary elections on December 15 to select the first full-term, four-year parliament since Saddam Hussein was overthrown. In January 2006, election results showed the United Iraqi Alliance—a coalition of Shiite Muslim religious parties that had dominated the existing government—had garnered the most votes, but not enough to rule without forming a coalition. It took another four months of bitter wrangling before a coalition government was finally formed. Sunni Arab, Kurdish, and secular officials continued to reject the Shiite coalition’s nomination for head of state—interim prime minister al-Jaafari.. The deadlock was finally broken in late April when Nuri al-Maliki, who, like Jaafari, belonged to the Shiite Dawa Party, was approved as prime minister.
 
On February 23, 2006, Sunni insurgents bombed and seriously damaged the Shiites’ most revered shrine in Iraq, the Askariya Shrine in Samarra. The bombings ignited ferocious sectarian attacks between Shiites and Sunnis. More than a thousand people were killed over several days, and Iraq seemed poised for full-scale civil war. Meanwhile, al-Maliki refused to abandon his political ties with Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric who led the powerful Madhi militia.
 
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the most-wanted terrorist in the country, was killed by a US bomb on June 7, 2006. Zarqawi was responsible for many of the most brutal and horrific attacks in Iraq. But his death did little to stem the violence. The UN announced that an average of more than 100 civilians were killed in Iraq each day. During the first six months of the year, civilian deaths increased by 77%. The UN also reported that about 1.6 million Iraqis were internally displaced, and up to 1.8 million refugees had fled the country.
 
At the end of July, the US announced it would move more troops into Baghdad from other regions of Iraq, in an attempt to bring security to the country’s capital, which was increasingly subject to lawlessness, violence, and sectarian strife. But by October, the military acknowledged that its 12-week-old campaign to establish security in Baghdad had been unsuccessful.
 
In June 2007, three Iraqi army officials, including Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam Hussein who was known as “Chemical Ali,” were convicted and sentenced to death for carrying out the murder of about 50,000 Kurds in 1988—what was called the Anfal campaign.
 
The stability of the Iraqi government further deteriorated in August 2007, when the Iraqi Consensus Front, the largest Sunni faction in Prime Minister al-Maliki’s cabinet, resigned, citing the Shiite-led government's failure to stem violence by militias and involve Sunnis in decisions on security. August also saw the deadliest attack of the war. Two pairs of truck bombs exploded about five miles apart in the remote, northwestern Iraqi towns of Qahtaniya and Jazeera. At least 500 members of the minority Yazidi community were killed and hundreds more were wounded.
 
Towards the end of 2007 the US military reported that for several consecutive weeks, the number of car bombs, roadside bombs, mines, rocket attacks, and other violence had fallen to the lowest level in nearly two years. In addition, the Iraqi Red Crescent reported that some 25,000 refugees (out of about 1.5 million) who had fled to Syria had returned to Iraq between September and the beginning of December.
 
On January 8, 2008, the Iraqi Parliament passed the Justice and Accountability Law, which allowed many Baathists to resume the government jobs they lost after the US-led invasion. The law was considered a major benchmark of political progress by the Iraqi government, although it was also criticized for being vague and confusing, and its many loopholes excluded more Baathists from government jobs than it allowed.
 
Parliament passed another round of legislation in February, which included a law that outlined provincial powers and an election timetable, a 2008 budget, and an amnesty law that would affect thousands of mostly Sunni Arab prisoners. However, a divided Iraqi Presidency Council vetoed the package.
 
In March, about 30,000 Iraqi troops and police, with air support from the US and British military, attempted to oust Shiite militias, primarily the Mahdi Army led by radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr, in Basra. The operation failed, and the Mahdi Army maintained control over much of Basra. More than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers either refused to participate in the operation or deserted their posts. The Iraqi government later fired those who refused to fight.
 
Iraq History (Arab Gateway)
 

 

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Iraq's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Iraq

A booklet handed out to US soldiers on their way to Iraq included this piece of prescient advice: “That tall man in the flowing robe you are going to see soon, with the whiskers and the long hair, is a first-class fighting man, highly skilled in guerilla warfare. Few fighters in any country, in fact, excell [sic] him in that kind of situation. If he is your friend, he can be a staunch and valuable ally. If he should happen to be your enemy—look out!” That booklet, A Short Guide to Iraq, was produced by the United States Army and given to American soldiers…in 1942, when US troops invaded Iraq in support of British troops.

 
The United States first established diplomatic relations with Iraq in 1931. In 1967 the military regime of Iraq broke off relations with the US, and formal relations did not resume until 1984. However, low-level talks between Washington and Baghdad did take place during the early years of the Reagan administration, as the US sought to build a surreptitious alliance in response to Iraq’s war with Iran.
 
In June 1982 President Reagan approved a National Security Decision Directive that declared the US would do whatever was necessary to prevent Iraq from losing its war against Iran. Reagan also removed Iraq from the State Department’s list of terrorist sponsors (which the Carter administration had implemented in 1979). This meant that Iraq was now eligible for US dual-use and military technology.
 
The following year, the State Department once again reported that Iraq was continuing to support terrorist groups. Also, Iraq began using chemical weapons against Iranian troops. Nevertheless, the Secretaries of Commerce and State pressured the National Security Council to approve the sale to Iraq of Bell helicopters “for crop dusting.”
In late 1983, Reagan secretly allowed Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt to transfer US weapons to Iraq. Reagan also asked the Italian prime minister to channel arms to Iraq. Also, in December 1983, Donald Rumsfeld paid a visit to Saddam Hussein in Baghdad as Reagan's envoy. Rumsfeld later claimed that the meeting was about terrorism in Lebanon. But State Department documents showed that, in fact, Rumsfeld was carrying a message from Reagan expressing his desire to have a closer and better relationship with Saddam Hussein.
 
In 1984 the CIA began secretly giving information to Iraqi intelligence to help them “calibrate” poison gas attacks against Iranian troops. The following year, the CIA established direct intelligence links with Saddam Hussein’s regime and began giving Iraq “data from sensitive US satellite reconnaissance photography” to help in the war.
The US House of Representatives passed a bill in 1984 to put Iraq back on State Department’s supporters of terrorism list. The Reagan administration pressured the bill’s sponsor to drop the legislation. The bill was dropped, and Iraq remained off the terrorist list.
Between 1985 and 1990 the Commerce Department approved the sale of numerous computers to Iraq’s weapons lab. (UN inspectors in 1991 found that 40% of the equipment in Iraq’s weapons lab were of US origin.) More importantly, the Reagan administration approved in 1985 the export to Iraq of biological cultures that were precursors to bioweapons the Iraqis developed, including anthrax and botulism. There were more than 70 shipments of such cultures between 1985 and 1988. The George H. W. Bush administration authorized an additional eight shipments of biological cultures that the Centers for Disease Control classified as “having biological warfare significance.”
 
The Reagan administration also approved exports that helped expand Iraq’s SCUD missile program. These exports allowed the Iraqis to extend the range of their SCUD missiles, which proved fatal to several Israelis during the Gulf War, when Iraq launched numerous SCUD attacks against Israel.  
In the last year of Reagan’s second term, officials prevented the Senate from putting sanctions on Iraq for its violation of the Geneva Protocol on Chemical Weapons. Reagan’s envoy to the UN voted against a UN Security Council statement condemning Iraq’s use of chemical weapons.
In 1989 the Bush administration approved dozens of export licenses for sophisticated dual-use equipment to Iraq’s weapons ministry,even after the Halabja gas attacks. In October, international banks cut off all loans to Iraq. The Bush administration responded by issuing National Security Directive 26, which mandated closer links with Iraq and included a $1 billion loan guarantee. This directive was suspended only on August 2, 1990, the day Iraq invaded Kuwait.
 
But between July 18 and August 1 (the day before the invasion), the Bush Administration approved $4.8 million in advanced technology sales to Iraq’s weapons ministry and to weapons labs that were known to have worked on biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.
 
Shortly after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, President Bush ordered the deployment of thousands of American military personnel to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield, to prevent Saddam Hussein from expanding his conquest into the oil-rich kingdom. In time, 12 other countries sent forces to Saudi Arabia to help support Operation Desert Storm in January 1991. The US-led attack against Iraq began with a ferocious air campaign designed to destroy Iraq’s air force and weaken its substantial ground forces. When the ground invasion finally began, Iraqi conscripts put up little fight, and US armored divisions easily chewed up Iraqi defenses which had already suffered substantial losses from aerial bombardments and tactical strikes.
 
The US attack was so effective, in fact, that American forces had a clear shot at Baghdad, and Saddam Hussein himself, had US military leaders been given the green light by President Bush to topple the dictator. However, as Bush later stated in the 1998 book. A World Transformed, which he co- with his National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, “Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq… would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible….We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under the circumstances, there was no viable ‘exit strategy’ we could see, violating another of our principles…. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.”
 
Many key people in the Bush White House also feared that taking out Saddam might cause the dissolution of the Iraq state, what with Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south seeking to break away. In fact, immediately after the war, the Bush administration and American intelligence operatives encouraged rebellious Kurdish and Shiite movements to rise up against the regime. But when Saddam ordered his military to crush the insurrections, the US turned its back on the Kurds and Shiites, who were subjected to ruthless attacks.
 
Instead of seeking to remove Saddam Hussein from power, the Bush administration, and later the Clinton administration, chose to leave the tyrant in power, albeit with a severely weakened military. The US also continued to apply pressure on the UN to maintain sanctions against Iraq.
 
During the remainder of the 1990s, the Clinton administration turned a blind eye to Iraqi efforts that thwarted the UN embargo on oil exports (except for those that aided humanitarian programs). The Clinton administration justified allowing Iraq to sell oil to Turkey and Jordan, saying it was “in the national interest because we depended on the stability in Turkey and the stability in Jordan to encircle Saddam Hussein,” according to a declassified State Department document. More than 60% of Iraq’s legal oil exports were purchased by US companies.
 
The Gulf War (PBS Frontline)
Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984 (National Security Archive, George Washington University)
Documents: U.S. condoned Iraq oil smuggling (by Elise Labott and Phil Hirschkorn, CNN)
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Current U.S. Relations with Iraq

Relations between Iraq and the US this decade have been dominated by events stemming from the American invasion in March 2003. Similarly to the Gulf War in 1991, US military forces had little trouble battling Saddam Hussein’s army. Only this time US Marines and Army units didn’t stop short, and instead pushed through to Baghdad, causing the Iraqi dictator to flee and his regime to collapse. President George W. Bush declared a short time later that the war was over and that it was just a matter of getting Iraq back on its feet.

 
This optimistic assessment proved short-sighted. Months after President Bush’s declaration, US forces began to come under intense guerilla attacks, mostly involving the placement of hidden roadside bombs (or improvised explosive devices, IEDs). Since then, more than four thousand American soldiers have died in Iraq.
 
Much of the US military’s work in the early months of the occupation was spent looking for proof of the weapons of mass destruction that the Bush administration claimed to exist, that were the justification for the attack. The months of searching for Iraq’s WMDs, which cost more than $1 billion,  yielded no hard evidence, and the administration and its intelligence agencies came under fire. Then came mounting allegations that the existence of these weapons was exaggerated or distorted as a pretext to justify the war. In fall 2003, President Bush recast the rationale for war, no longer citing the danger of weapons of mass destruction, but instead describing Iraq as “the central front” in the war against terrorism. A free and democratic Iraq, he contended, would serve as a model for the rest of the Middle East.
 
Continued instability in 2003 kept 140,000 American troops (at a cost of $4 billion a month), as well as 11,000 British and 10,000 coalition troops in Iraq. The US launched several tough military campaigns to subdue Iraqi resistance, which also had the effect of further alienating the populace. The rising violence prompted the Bush administration to reverse its Iraq policy in November 2003 and transfer power to an interim government that would take power in July 2004, much earlier than originally planned.
 
In January 2004, the CIA’s chief weapons inspector, David Kay, stated that US intelligence about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction “was almost all wrong.” When the final report on the existence of these weapons in Iraq was issued in October 2004, Kay’s successor, Charles Duelfer, confirmed that there was no evidence of an Iraqi WMD program.
 
On July 9, 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan “Report on Pre-War Intelligence on Iraq,” (PDF) concluding that “most of the major key judgments” on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were “either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence report.” The report also stated that there was no “established formal relationship” between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. The following week, Britain’s Butler report (PDF) on pre-Iraq intelligence echoed the American findings.
 
By December 2005, more than 2,100 American soldiers had died in Iraq and more than 15,000 had been wounded. The absence of a clear strategy for winning the war beyond “staying the course” caused Americans’ support for Bush’s handling of the war to plummet. The US and Iraqi governments agreed that no firm timetable for the withdrawal of US troops should be set, maintaining that this would simply encourage the insurgency. Withdrawal would take place as Iraqi security forces grew strong enough to assume responsibility for the country’s stability. But the training of Iraqi security forces went far more slowly than anticipated. A July 2005 Pentagon report acknowledged that only “a small number” of Iraqi security forces were capable of fighting the insurgency without American help.
 
In February 2006, a US Senate report on progress in Iraq indicated that, despite the US spending $16 billion on reconstruction, every major area of Iraq’s infrastructure was below prewar levels. Incompetence and fraud characterized numerous projects, and by April the US special inspector general was pursuing 72 investigations into corruption by firms involved in reconstruction.
 
In May a number of news stories broke about a report that US Marines had killed 24 Iraqis “in cold blood” in the city of Haditha the previous November 19. The alleged massacre, which included women and children, was said to have been revenge for a bombing that killed a marine. The marines are also alleged to have covered up the killings. The military did not launch a criminal investigation until mid-March, four months after the incident. Several additional sets of separate allegations of civilian murders by US troops also surfaced.
 
In September 2006, a classified National Intelligence Estimate concluded that the “Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse.” By this time, many authorities characterized the conflict as a civil war—as one political scientist put it, the level of sectarian violence is “so extreme that it far surpasses most civil wars since 1945.” The White House, however, continued to reject the term.
 
In December, the bipartisan report by the Iraq Study Group, led by former secretary of state James Baker and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton, concluded that “the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating” and “US forces seem to be caught in a mission that has no foreseeable end.” The report heightened the debate over the US role in Iraq, but President Bush kept his distance from it, indicating that he would wait until January 2007 before announcing a new Iraq strategy.
 
In  January 2007 President Bush announced that a “surge” of 20,000 additional troops would be deployed to Baghdad to try to stem the sectarian fighting. He also said Iraq had committed to a number of “benchmarks,” including increasing troop presence in Baghdad and passing oil-revenue-sharing and jobs-creation plans.
 
A National Intelligence Estimate released in September 2007 concluded that the Iraqi government had failed to end sectarian violence even with the surge of American troops. The report also said that a withdrawal of troops would weaken security gains. In 2008 US casualty rates dropped to less than half the level of 2007.
 
A total of 37,714 people identified themselves as being of Iraqi ancestry in the 2000 US census. About 10,000 of these emigrated in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. These refugees tended to be either persecuted Kurds, or Shi'as who had plotted against Saddam Hussein.
 
In 2006 993 Iraqis visited the US. Only 541 Iraqis came to America in 2002, but since 2004, the number of annual visitors to the US has doubled and remained close to 1,000. There is no data available for Americans traveling to Iraq.
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Where Does the Money Flow

Oil has been the central trade issue with Iraq since the US invasion in 2003. The United States imports very little from Iraq except oil. From 2003 to 2007, American importation of crude oil increased from $4.57 billion to $10.8 billion. Altogether, US imports from Iraq totaled $11.4 billion in 2007.

 
American exports to Iraq are far more diversified, although in total, they amounted to only $1.5 billion in 2007, leaving the United States with a sizeable trade deficit. The top American exports to Iraq from 2003-2007 were wheat ($413 million), parts for military type goods ($267 million), rice ($101 million), telecommunications equipment ($98 million), and meat/poultry ($73 million).
 
In an effort to rebuild Iraq following the destruction levied by the US invasion, the federal government has distributed billions of dollars in federal contracts to American companies. According to the Center for Public Integrity, 125 US businesses have profited from the rebuilding of Iraq, and 17 of them have accumulated earnings in the billions:
 
  1. Kellogg, Brown & Root (Halliburton)                           $10,832,000,000
  2. Parsons Corp.                                                               $5,286,136,252 
  3. Fluor Corp.                                                                   $3,754,964,295
  4. Washington Group International                                    $3,133,078,193
  5. Shaw Group/Shaw E & I                                                $3,050,749,910
  6. Bechtel Group Inc.                                                         $2,829,833,859
  7. Perini Corporation                                                          $2,525,000,000
  8. Contrack International Inc.                                            $2,325,000,000
  9. Tetra Tech Inc.                                                             $1,541,947,671
  10. USA Environmental Inc.                                                $1,541,947,671
  11. CH2M Hill                                                                     $1,528,500,000
  12. American International Contractors, Inc.                       $1,500,000,000
  13. Odebrect-Austin                                                            $1,500,000,000
  14. Zapata Engineering                                                        $1,478,838,958
  15. Environmental Chemical Corporation                             $1,475,000,000
  16. Explosive Ordnance Technologies Inc.                            $1,475,000,000
  17. Stanley Baker Hill L.L.C.                                              $1,200,000,000
 
Several American security firms have profited from the instability in Iraq. Blackwater USA, DynCorp International, and Triple Canopy were hired by the State Department to guard diplomats and other American personnel. Blackwater USA has provided a variety of protective services in Iraq, using 987 employees, of whom 744 are Americans. Blackwater was one of the original companies providing security services to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), including protection for CPA chief Paul Bremer, as well as other CPA employees and visiting dignitaries.
 
DynCorp International has 151 personnel in Iraq (100 are American) to provide police training and related services in Iraq.
 
Triple Canopy employs the largest number of private guards in Iraq, almost 1,500, of which only 224 are American.
 
In addition to those American firms awarded federal contracts, some of the country’s largest oil companies are also doing business in Iraq, such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron, which were awarded technical support contracts by the Iraqi government to access the country’s vast untapped oil fields.
 
The US sold defense articles and services worth $1.683 billion to Iraq in 2007.
 
The US gave $2.116 billion in aid to Iraq in 2007, including $1.959 billion in supplementary funding. The budget allotted the most funds to Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform ($995.1 million), Good Governance ($271.6 million), Civil Society ($220 million), Rule of Law and Human Rights ($187.3), Political Competition and Consensus-Building ($171.9 million). The 2008 budget estimate cut aid in half, to $977.2 million, including $956 million in supplemental funding. The 2009 budget request, which does not include supplemental funding, is for $397 million. The 2009 budget will distribute the most aid to Rule of Law and Human Rights ($78 million), Good Governance ($65 million), Macroeconomic Foundation for Growth ($62 million), and Agriculture ($50 million).
 
U.S. Security Agreements and Iraq (by Greg Bruno, Council on Foreign Relations)
Windfalls of War (Center for Public Integrity)
Private Security Contractors in Iraq (by Elsea, Schwartz and Nakamura, Congressional Research Service)
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Controversies

US Spying on Iraqi Government

In September 2008 allegations surfaced that the US spied on Iraq’s prime minister, prompting Iraqi officials to warn that future ties with the United States could be in jeopardy. The allegations appeared in the book The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008 by journalist Bob Woodward, who wrote that the United States spied extensively on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his staff and other government officials. An aide to al-Maliki said, “If this is true, then we feel sorry about that. We look upon the Americans as our partners. There’s nothing of real value that would require the Americans to spy on us. On top of that, we have nothing to hide from the Americans to make them have to spy on us.”
 
The report emerged as the two governments negotiate over the future of American troops in Iraq. Those talks have already extended past their July 31 deadline and have drawn sharp criticism from Iraqis who want an end to the US presence.
U.S. Spied on Iraqi Leaders, Book Says (by Steve Luxenberg, Washington Post)
 
Halliburton Subsidiary Dropped by Government
Following an audit of its billing to the US Army, KBR Inc., a one-time subsidiary of oil services giant Halliburton, lost its billion-dollar contract to provide food, shelter and communications services to US troops in Iraq. The decision to drop KBR came after several years of attacks from critics who saw the contract as a symbol of politically connected corporations profiteering on the war. KBR’s parent, Halliburton, was once run by Vice President Dick Cheney.
 
Government audits turned up more than $1 billion in questionable costs. Whistle-blowers told how the company charged $45 per case of soda, double-billed on meals and allowed troops to bathe in contaminated water. Company officials denied the allegations. Army officials defended the company’s performance, but also acknowledged that reliance on a single contractor left the government vulnerable.
 
The Pentagon planned to split the work among three companies, with a fourth firm hired to help monitor the performance of the other three. In spite of the controversy, it was announced that KBR would still be eligible to bid on the work. Other companies allowed to bid included Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
 
In August 2007 the US Army announced that it would review as many as 18,000 contracts awarded over the past four years to support US forces in Iraq to determine how many were tainted by waste, fraud and abuse. The contracts collectively were worth almost $3 billion and represented every transaction made between 2003 and 2007 by a contracting office in Kuwait, which the Army had identified as a significant trouble spot.
Army to Examine Iraq Contracts (by Richard Lardner, Associated Press)
Army to End Expansive, Exclusive Halliburton Deal (by Griff Witte, Washington Post)
 
State Dept Contractors Kill Iraqi Citizens
The use of private security companies by the State Department in Iraq came under national scrutiny in September 2006 following a firefight in Baghdad involving a group of Blackwater armed guards. While providing security for a convoy transporting US diplomats, the Blackwater guards opened fire in a traffic circle, killing 17 Iraqis. The company justified the deadly response by claiming the convoy had come under attack from insurgents. Iraqi officials and some US military personnel questioned the accounts of the Blackwater guards. A team of Justice Department and FBI investigators traveled to Iraq to conduct a two-week investigation.
 
A grand jury was convened in late 2007 to examine the shootings. However, federal prosecutors were not sure if the contractors could be prosecuted under US law because of a grant of immunity to Blackwater and other private security companies by the former US occupation government in Iraq. Further complicating the matter was the limited immunity that State Department investigators offered Blackwater guards as part of their investigation into the shootings.
State Dept. Contractors In Iraq Are Reined In (by Karen DeYoung, Washington Post)
Immunity Deals Offered to Blackwater Guards (by David Johnston, New York Times)
 
Blackwater Sniper Kills Iraqi Guards
Prior to the September shooting incident, Blackwater was embroiled in controversy when one of its snipers killed three Iraqi guards. The sniper opened fire from the roof of the Iraqi Justice Ministry, killing a 23-year-old guard for the state-funded Iraqi Media Network, who was standing on a balcony across an open traffic circle. Another guard rushed to his colleague’s side and was fatally shot in the neck. A third guard was found dead more than an hour later on the same balcony.
 
Eight people who responded to the shootings—including media network and Justice Ministry guards and an Iraqi army commander—and five network officials in the compound said none of the slain guards had fired on the Justice Ministry, where an American diplomat was in a meeting. An Iraqi police report described the shootings as “an act of terrorism” and said Blackwater was at fault. The media network concluded that the guards were killed “without any provocation.”
 
State Department officials defended Blackwater’s actions. Based on information from the Blackwater guards, who said they were fired upon, the State Department determined that the security team’s actions “fell within approved rules governing the use of force,” according to a State Department official.
 
US officials and the security company offered no compensation or apology to the victims’ families. “It's really surprising that Blackwater is still out there killing people,” said Mohammed Jasim, the Iraqi Media Network’s deputy director.
 
A Blackwater spokesperson said the company’s guards came under “precision small-arms fire” and that the shooting was absolutely provoked.
 
An internal review of the State Department’s handling of private security contractors found serious deficiencies in the agency’s supervision of contractors, including Blackwater. The State Department’s chief of diplomatic security, Richard J. Griffin, was forced to resign after the report was released.
How Blackwater Sniper Fire Felled 3 Iraqi Guards (by Steve Fainaru, Washington Post)
 
Abu Ghraib
In April 2004, photographs surfaced that depicted abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. Some of the pictures depicted US soldiers, both men and women in military uniforms, laughing and giving thumbs-up signs while posing with naked Iraqi prisoners made to stand, stacked in a pyramid or positioned to perform sex acts.
 
A criminal investigation by the US Army Criminal Investigation Command found numerous instances of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib. The systematic and illegal abuse of detainees was perpetrated by soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company and also by members of the American intelligence community. Both current and former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officers were reportedly at the prison conducting interrogations, including Steven Anthony Stefanowicz, a former Navy reserve intelligence specialist at the Defense Intelligence Agency, who was working as a contractor for CACI International.
 
DIA countered with a memo, written by the agency’s director to a senior Pentagon official, that claimed two members of his agency witnessed the torture and were threatened and told to keep quiet by other military interrogators. The memorandum said that the DIA officials saw prisoners being brought in to a detention center with burn marks on their backs and complaining about sore kidneys.
 
In 2005, DIA pushed for legislation that indicated the agency might have something to hide about Abu Ghraib. A provision in the Defense Authorization Bill would have exempted the DIA from having to comply with requests under the Freedom of Information Act. The exception would render records that document “the conduct of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence operations” of the DIA Directorate of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) unreachable to the public. Opponents dubbed the Defense amendment the “Abu Ghraib Protection Act.”
Exposure: The Woman Behind the Camera at Abu Ghraib (by Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris, New Yorker)
"Big Steve" and Abu Ghraib (by Mark Benjamin and Michael Scherer, Salon)
Is it the “Abu Ghraib Protection Act?” (National Security Archive, George Washington University)
The Gray Zone (by Seymour Hersh, New Yorker)
 
IEDs and Humvees
Once US forces had defeated the Iraqi military and assumed control of the country in 2003, the Pentagon believed the worst of its troubles were over. Little did military planners realize that American casualties not only would continue to mount but would increase at an even higher pace than when soldiers were fighting a full-scale war.
 
Shortly after President Bush declared an end to the fighting, Iraqi guerilla fighters began attacking US combat troops with homemade bombs, or IEDs (improvised explosive devices). The IEDs proved to be especially dangerous to troops riding in Humvees, a vehicle widely used to transport troops. Lacking an armored body, the vehicle became a coffin for American soldiers caught inside when an IED exploded beneath or next to the Humvee.
 
Soon stories began appearing in American newspapers about the vulnerability of the Humvee, and how American troops were scavenging parts from other vehicles to fortify their Humvees with “hillbilly armor” because the Pentagon was slow to respond to the problem. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed his department was doing everything it could to address the problem, but that the manufacturers of the Humvee couldn’t produce modified versions of the vehicle any faster. Not true, said the company, AM General, pointing out that they could increase production if the Pentagon wanted them to.
 
Even when reinforced Humvees arrived in Iraq, another problem arose. The heavily-armored vehicles couldn’t maneuver effectively and were prone to tipping over at certain speeds. In addition, its heavier doors trapped soldiers inside after an attack or accident. The Pentagon then decided to scrap the Humvee altogether and purchase a brand new vehicle designed to withstand mines and other small explosives. All services have ordered a total of 7,700 MRAPs (short for “mine resistant ambush protected”) at a cost of $8 billion.
Troops in Iraq get safer vehicle (by Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today)
Humvee makers dispute Rumsfeld remarks (by George Edmonson, Cox News Service)
 
The Rescue of Jessica Lynch
On March 23, 2003, as US forces continued to battle Iraqi military for control of Iraq, an Army private, Jessica Lynch, was captured after her convoy was ambushed. Suffering numerous broken bones, Lynch wound up in a hospital still controlled by the enemy. A tip from an Iraqi source led to a daring rescue of Lynch by Special Operations soldiers. The story made front-page news as media sources around the country gobbled up the fantastic tale, which turned out to be full of fantasy, thanks to Pentagon spin doctors.
 
It was true that Lynch had been severely injured when her Humvee crashed during an ambush outside Nasiriyah and was taken by captors to a hospital. But it was not true, as the Washington Post reported on April 1, 2003, that Lynch had killed several Iraqis in a gun battle and sustained many gunshot wounds herself. The Post’s erroneous account was seconded by the New York Times and other reputable media outlets. It wasn’t until early May that the story began to fall apart after the Toronto Star reported that Lynch had been well cared for at the hospital, that her captors had left up to two days before the raid and that fire from US forces had prevented hospital staffers from loading her in an ambulance. The BBC confirmed the Star’s account, and later the Post ran a 5,000-word story correcting what had previously been reported.
 
Once the truth was out, critics blasted the Pentagon for manipulating the truth about the rescue in order to gain sympathy for the US operation that was chewing up the country.
Former POW Jessica Lynch Recalls Her Captivity in Iraq (by Anna Mulrine, U.S. News & World Report)
Misleading Information from the Battlefield: The Tillman and Lynch Episodes (House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform)
The Private Jessica Lynch (by Nancy Gibbs, Time)
The truth about Jessica (by John Kampfner, The Guardian)
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Human Rights

Despite the Bush administration’s best efforts to characterize the situation in Iraq in a positive light, the State Department has reported that “significant human rights problems” continue to exist inside the war-torn country.

 
Officials noted a long list of troubles that covered “a pervasive climate of violence; misappropriation of official authority by sectarian, criminal and extremist groups; arbitrary deprivation of life; disappearances; torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; impunity; poor conditions in pretrial detention and prison facilities; denial of fair public trials; delays in resolving property restitution claims; immature judicial institutions lacking capacity; arbitrary arrest and detention; arbitrary interference with privacy and home; other abuses in internal conflicts; limitations on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association due to sectarianism and extremist threats and violence; restrictions on religious freedom; restrictions on freedom of movement; large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees; lack of protection of refugees and stateless persons; lack of transparency and widespread, severe corruption at all levels of government; constraints on international organizations and nongovernmental organizations’ (NGOs) investigations of alleged violations of human rights; discrimination against and societal abuses of women, ethnic, and religious minorities; human trafficking; societal discrimination and violence against individuals based on sexual orientation; and limited exercise of labor rights.”
 
The State Department report for 2007 also said that “sectarian, ethnic and extremist violence, coupled with weak government performance in upholding the rule of law, resulted in widespread, severe, human rights abuses.” Officials admitted that predominantly Shi’a armed paramilitary groups had infiltrated the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and frequently killed and forced Sunnis to leave their homes and move to predominantly Sunni areas.
 
“Death squads” also were reported in the State Department findings, a term that the media has largely avoided using while covering the violence inside Iraq. Some of these death squads were affiliated with the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MOI). The report stated “MOI-affiliated death squads targeted Sunnis and conducted kidnapping raids and killings in Baghdad and its environs. In May 2006 then Minister of Interior Bayan Jabr announced to the press the arrest of a major general and 17 other ministry employees implicated in kidnapping and ‘death squad activities.’ Jabr also noted that that the MOD [Ministry of Defense] found a terror group in its 16th Brigade that carried out ‘killings of citizens.’”
 
During 2007, kidnappings and disappearances remained a severe problem, with many instances attributable to rogue police. There were no new developments in the disappearances of Ali al-Mahdawi, director of Diyala Health Directorate and Sunni nominee to be deputy minister of health; Ahmed al-Mosawi, the head of the Iraq Human Rights Society; approximately 50 persons from the Salhiya neighborhood in Baghdad (reportedly taken by assailants wearing police uniforms); and approximately 70 Ministry of Industry and Minerals employees kidnapped by gunmen at a checkpoint.
 
The State Department found that “numerous and serious reports of torture, abuses, and killings were leveled at MOI’s regional intelligence office in Basrah and the Khadimiyah National Police detention facility in Baghdad.” Former detainees claimed that they suffered severe beatings, electric shocks, sexual assault, suspension by the limbs for long periods, threats of ill-treatment of relatives, and gunshot wounds. Reports of abuse by MOI’s National Police forces and MOD’s battalion-level forces continued to be common.
 
Abusive interrogation practices reportedly occurred in some detention facilities run by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) internal security (Asayish) forces and the KRG intelligence services. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reported finding evidence that investigators disregarded instructions not to employ coercive methods with Asayish detainees in Erbil. Allegations of abuse included application of electric shocks, suspension in stress positions, and severe beatings. In some cases, police threatened and sexually abused detainees, including juveniles.
 
Most detention facilities under MOI and MOD control reportedly did not meet international standards. Many lacked adequate food, exercise facilities, medical care, and family visitation. The detainee population under government control, estimated to number at least 23,000, was high due to mass arrests carried out in security and military operations. Limited infrastructure or aging physical plants in some facilities resulted in marginal sanitation, limited access to water and electricity, and poor quality food. Medical care in MOI and MOD detention facilities was not consistently provided, and rape, torture, and abuse, sometimes leading to death, reportedly occurred in some facilities.
 
The World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators found a severe problem with government corruption. Large-scale corruption pervaded the government, and public perception of government corruption continued to be high. Intimidation and political influence were factors in some allegations of corruption, and officials sometimes used “de-Ba'athification” to further political and personal agendas.
 
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Debate

To Pull Out or Not to Pull Out

 
Keep Fighting
President George W. Bush has insisted that the US must remain in Iraq until “the job is done.” Supporters of keeping American military forces in Iraq argue that the US cannot risk leaving prematurely and allow terrorists to remain in the country. To pull out now would send the wrong message to terrorists—that the United States will retreat from a tough fight. Leaving now would also endanger the long-term security of the Iraqi people. Iraq’s security forces are insufficient to provide the security that the Iraqi people need. A vacuum would be left behind. Most Iraqis fear the chaos of a US pullout, of what would happen next.
 
Withdraw US Troops
Opponents of staying in Iraq argue that the US is doing more harm than good by remaining in the country. American military forces have become a magnet for Islamic terrorists who view the US occupation as an encroachment on Arab and Muslim sovereignty. Remaining in Iraq will only produce more instability for Americans and for the Iraqi people. The sooner the US allows Iraq to take care of its security, the better off everyone will be. The Iraqi security forces have become embedded in the occupation itself and are seen as an extension of the hated and loathed occupation. So they get attacked as collaborators and slaughtered. The best way for them to build up their own forces and their own credibility is to make a clear break with the US occupation, which means immediately announcing a withdrawal of troops and setting up a transition plan.
 
Iraq War Withdrawal and Exit Plans (Project on Defense Alternatives)
When Should the U.S. Withdraw From Iraq? (by Ted Galen Carpenter and James Phillips, Council on Foreign Relations)
Troop Surge vs. Redeployment (Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia)
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Past Ambassadors

Alexander K. Sloan
Appointment: Mar 30, 1931
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 18, 1931
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Oct 19, 1932
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 17, 1931.

 
Paul Knabenshue
Appointment: Aug 5, 1932
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 7, 1932
Termination of Mission: Recess appointment expired, Mar 4, 1933
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate.
Appointment: Mar 17, 1933
Presentation of Credentials: May 18, 1933
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Feb 1, 1942
 
Thomas M. Wilson
Appointment: Aug 13, 1942
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 26, 1942
Termination of Mission: Left Iraq, Sep 19, 1943
 
Loy W. Henderson
Appointment: Jul 8, 1943
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 20, 1943
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 7, 1945
Note: James S. Moose, Jr., was serving as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim when Legation Baghdad was raised to Embassy status, Dec 28, 1946.
 
Lowell C. Pinkerton
Appointment: Apr 30, 1946
Note: Did not serve under this appointment.
 
George Wadsworth
Appointment: Nov 19, 1946
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; did not serve under this appointment.
Appointment: Jan 13, 1947
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 15, 1947
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 26, 1948
 
Edward S. Crocker 2nd
Appointment: Sep 28, 1948
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 12, 1949
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 1, 1952
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Mar 2, 1949.
 
Burton Y. Berry
Appointment: Jun 25, 1952
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 11, 1952
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 3, 1954
 
Waldemar J. Gallman
Appointment: Jul 2, 1954
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 3, 1954
Termination of Mission: Reaccredited when Iraq became a republic; presented new credentials Sep 22, 1958; left post, Dec 14, 1958
Note: Commissioned as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Arab Union, Jul 10, 1958, but did not take oath of office under that appointment, the Arab Union having been dissolved; continued to serve as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Iraq.
 
John D. Jernegan
Appointment: Dec 11, 1958
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 12, 1959
Termination of Mission: Departure requested by Govt. of Iraq, Jun 2, 1962; left post, Jun 11, 1962
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 29, 1959.
 
Robert C. Strong
Appointment: Jun 4, 1963
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 2, 1963
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 13, 1967
Note: Enoch S. Duncan was serving as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim when Iraq severed diplomatic relations with the United States, Jun 7, 1967.
 
Note: The United States resumed diplomatic relations with Iraq on Nov 26, 1984. The U.S. Interests Section in Baghdad was raised to Embassy status on Nov 27, and David G. Newton became Chargé d'Affaires as interim. The U.S. Interests Section had been established in the Belgian Embassy in Baghdad on Oct 1, 1972. The following officers served as head of the Interests Section: Arthur L. Lowrie, Oct 1972–Sep 1975; Marshall W. Wiley, Oct 1975–May 1977; David L. Mack, May 1977–Feb 1978; Edward Peck, Feb 1978–Aug 1980; William L. Eagleton, Jr., Aug 1980–Jun 1984; and David G. Newton, Jun–Nov 1984.
 
David George Newton
Appointment: Jul 12, 1985
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 17, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 19, 1988
 
April Catherine Glaspie
Appointment: Mar 28, 1988
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 5, 1988
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 30, 1990
Note: Renominated Jan 27, 1988; an earlier nomination was not acted upon by the Senate.
 
Note: Joseph C. Wilson served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, Jul 1990–Jan 1991. The Embassy in Baghdad was closed Jan 12, 1991. The United States and its allies began military operations against Iraq Jan 16, 1991. Iraq severed diplomatic relations with the United States Feb 9, 1991.
 
John D. Negroponte
Appointment: Jun 17, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: June 29, 2004
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 17, 2005
 
Zalmay Khalilzad
Appointment: Jun 20, 2005
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 21, 2005
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 26, 2007
 
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Iraq's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Jabir, Jabir Habib

The nation of Iraq, which said goodbye to the last American combat troops only last December, has sent an ambassador to the United States who is a former academic who studied in the West. Dr. Jabir Habib Jabir was appointed ambassador in August 2011 and presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on January 18, 2012. 

 
Born in Baghdad in 1955, Jabir earned a B.S. in Political Science at Baghdad University in 1980 and a PhD in Political Thought from Dundee University in the United Kingdom in 1991, for a thesis entitled, “Modern Islamic Theories of the State, with Special Reference to Rashid Ridha and Ali Abdul-Raziq.” After completing his doctorate and returning to Iraq, Dr. Jabir was appointed lecturer at the Faculty of Law and Political Science at Baghdad University, where he taught from 1991 to 2005 and rose to the position of dean of the political thoughts department. He was also an associate senior lecturer at the Iraqi Justice Institution from 1998 to 1999. During the years when Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, Jabir functioned as an academic, publishing articles and books, supervising graduate students, and occasionally publishing articles in the mainstream press.
 
After the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Hussein, Jabir entered politics and, as a member of the United Iraqi Alliance, was elected in 2005 as a member of the newly-formed Iraqi Parliament, where he served on the Constitution Review Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee. In March 2010, however, running as a member of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, an officially non-sectarian but heavily Shi’a bloc, Jabir lost his seat in parliament even as the Coalition came in second.
 
He was soon hired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responsible for managing its “Arabic Region” Department from 2010 to December 2011. During that time, he wrote on the problem of endemic corruption in the new Iraqi state.
 
Jabir is married and has three sons, Hanen, Ghofran, and Mustafa.
 
 

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Iraq's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Robert Young 9 months ago
Who can I contact to help get approval for a construction job in Iraq. We have US STATE authorization and certification the State of California and have submitted the document we want approved to the Consulate in LA. A MR. Salsami signed to receive our document on 3/3/14. We have been told they will not approve the document. Is there some one we can get to help get this construction job started?

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U.S. Ambassador to Iraq

Beecroft, Robert Stephen
ambassador-image

A career diplomat who has been running the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, since June 1 was nominated on September 10 by President Barack Obama to be the next ambassador there. In mid-June Obama’s original choice for the job, Brett McGurk, was forced to withdraw his candidacy after the revelation of racy emails sent in 2008 between the married diplomat, then stationed in Baghdad, and reporter Gina Chon, whom he later married.

 

Born circa 1961, Beecroft earned a BA from Brigham Young University in 1982 and a JD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1988. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in Venezuela, circa 1982-1984. He told LDS Church News, “"I distinctly remember my father taking me aside and teaching me to look for the person in need. He used to send my brothers and me out at Christmas time with money in envelopes to anonymously deposit in the mailboxes of people in our community who were in need.”

 

Before joining the Foreign Service in 1994, Beecroft practiced law in San Francisco. Overseas, Beecroft has specialized in Middle East affairs, serving at the embassies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Damascus, Syria. Beecroft’s assignments in Washington have included service in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and Executive Secretariat. He served as special assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and as executive assistant to Secretaries of State Colin Powell (from 2004 to 2005) and Condoleezza Rice (from 2005 to 2008). 

 

He returned to the Middle East to serve as ambassador at the embassy in Amman, Jordan, from July 17, 2008 to June 4, 2011. He joined the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, as deputy chief of mission on July 14, 2011, and became chargé d’affaires upon the departure of Ambassador James Jeffrey on June 1, 2012.

 

He is married to Anne Tisdel Beecroft, who also earned a BS at BYU in 1982, as well as a JD from BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1985. The couple has four children, Blythe, Warren, Sterling and Grace.

-Matt Bewig

 

Official Biography

Ambassador Stephen Beecroft Receives Human Rights Award (by Page Johnson, LDS Church News)

A Diplomatic Life (by Brittany Karford Rogers, BYU Magazine)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Iraq

Hill, Christopher
ambassador-image

Christopher R. Hill, President Barack Obama’s first choice for ambassador to Iraq, is a career diplomat who was Washington’s top nuclear negotiator with North Korea. He speaks three languages—Polish, Serbo-Croatian and Macedonian—but not Arabic, which is representative of his lack of Middle East experience or knowledge. This fact caused some Senate Republicans to oppose his nomination, but he was confirmed, 72-23, on April 21, 2009. However, his term in Iraq was relatively brief, ending August 15, 2010.
 
Born August 10, 1952, in Paris, France, Hill’s father served in the Foreign Service. He grew up in Little Compton, Rhode Island, and attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he played lacrosse and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics.
 
After college, Hill served for two years with the Peace Corps in Cameroon, where helped create a system of microcredit. He then joined the State Department in 1977.
 
His early Foreign Service work included tours at the US embassies in Belgrade, Warsaw, Seoul, and Tirana. He also served on the State Department’s policy planning staff and in the department’s Operation Center. While on a fellowship with the American Political Science Association, he served as a staff member for Congressman Stephen Solarz (D-New York) working on Eastern European issues. He also served as the State Department’s Senior Country Officer for Poland. 
 
He received a master’s degree from the Naval War College in 1994.  
 
Hill later served as special assistant to the President and senior director for Southeast European Affairs on the National Security Council. From 1996 to 1999, he was US ambassador to Macedonia. During this time, protesters attacked the American Embassy in 1999 over NATO air strikes in Yugoslavia to stop Serbian attacks against the Albanian enclave of Kosovo. Unlike most overseas missions, the US Embassy in Macedonia did not have any US Marine guards for security. The protesters quickly overran the embassy’s perimeter and began to use the embassy flagpole as a battering ram. When a top State Department official called Hill during the crisis to ask where his Marines were, Hill sardonically replied he didn’t have any—but thankfully there were Marines at the embassy in Luxembourg.
 
Also during his time as ambassador to Macedonia, Hill doubled as special envoy to Kosovo (1998-1999).
 
In 2000, he was appointed ambassador to Poland, serving until 2004, when he finally got his wish after several years of lobbying and became ambassador to South Korea. In Seoul, Hill broke with diplomatic precedent by visiting universities and with groups expressing fierce anti-American positions. He gave speeches and had debates with US critics, which won him respect among some South Koreans.

Just eight months into his assignment, Hill was named head of the U.S. delegation of the Six-Party Talks on North Korea to discuss the nuclear ambitions of Kim Jong-il’s regime. He was then promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in April 2005.
 
Brownback Promises Battle On Iraq Nominee (by Kirk Victor, National Journal)
 

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Overview
Iraq has been the focus of the United States’ two most significant international conflicts in the last 20 years. Following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, the United States forged an international coalition to defend Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states from further Iraqi aggression and launched a counter-offensive that drove Iraq’s army out of Kuwait, wounding the power of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The US was well-positioned to drive Hussein out of Baghdad, but the administration of George H. W. Bush chose instead to leave the despot in place. In 1998, Bush co-authored a book with his National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, entitled A World Transformed. In chapter 19 they wrote about the first Gulf War, “Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq… would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible….We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under the circumstances, there was no viable ‘exit strategy’ we could see, violating another of our principles…. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.”
 
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, George W. Bush ignored his father’s warnings and set out to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Arguing that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and was working with al Qaeda, the terrorist organization behind 9/11, President Bush ordered US forces to invade Iraq a second time, in March 2003. In a few short weeks, the US seized control of the country and drove Saddam Hussein into hiding. Bush declared victory and proclaimed that the US would make Iraq a model of democracy in the Middle East. Instead, the country spiraled into a hellish multi-facted civil war, with the American occupying forces caught in the middle. Eventually thousands of US soldiers would lose their lives and tens of thousands more would come home wounded. No evidence of WMDs or of Iraq’s complicity with al Qaeda ever surfaced. Even more Iraqis died at the hands of terrorist activities committed by Shiite and Sunni factions, raising questions among Iraqis and Americans about the usefulness of keeping US forces in the country. The unpopularity of the war was considered a prime factor in the downfall of the Republican Party in the 2006 midterm elections and a key reason why the GOP failed to retain the White House in the November 2008 election won by Democrat Barack Obama.
 
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Iraq, known historically in the West as Mesopotamia, is located in southwestern Asia and borders the Persian Gulf on the south. Its twin river system, the Tigris-Euphrates, empties into the Persian Gulf. Iraq is largely desert and flood plain, but to the north and east are high mountain ranges. Most Iraqis live along the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates.

 
Population: 28.2 million
 
Religions: Shi'a Muslim 64%, Sunni Muslim 33%, Christian (Chaldean Catholics, Church of the East, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant) 2%, other (Yezidi, Sabean-Mandaean, Baha'i, Shakbak, Kaka'i) 1%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian, or other 5%.
 
Languages: Mesopotamian Arabic 45.3%, North Mesopotamian Arabic 21.3%, Kurdish (Central, Northern, Southern) 12.8%, Najdi Arabic 3.5%, South Azerbaijani 2.4%, Western Farsi 0.9%, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic 0.5%, Gulf Arabic 0.2%, Armenian 0.2%, Judeo-Iraqi Arabic 0.001%, Arabic (official). There are 21 living languages in Iraq.
 

 

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History
In ancient times Iraq was known as Mesopotamia (land between the rivers) because it is home to where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers come together. An advanced civilization existed by 4000 BC. Sometime after 2000 BC the land became the center of the ancient Babylonian and Assyrian empires. Mesopotamia was conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia in 538 BC and by Alexander the Great in 331 BC. After an Arab conquest in 637–640, Baghdad became the capital of the ruling caliphate. The country was pillaged by the Mongols in 1258, and during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, it was the object of repeated Turkish-Persian competition.
 
During World War I, Great Britain occupied most of Mesopotamia and was given a mandate over the area in 1920. The British renamed the area Iraq and recognized it as a kingdom in 1922. In 1932, the monarchy achieved full independence. Britain again occupied Iraq during World War II because of its pro-Axis stance in the initial years of the war.
 
Iraq became a charter member of the Arab League in 1945, and Iraqi troops took part in the Arab invasion of Palestine in 1948, marking the first Arab-Israeli war.
 
King Faisal II and his uncle, Crown Prince Abdul-Illah, were assassinated in July 1958 in a revolutionary coup that ended the monarchy and brought to power a military junta headed by Abdul Karem Kassim. The military regime reversed the monarchy’s pro-Western policies and began to form alliances with Communist countries, including the Soviet Union.
 
Kassim was overthrown and killed in a coup staged on March 8, 1963, by the military and the Baath Socialist Party. The Baath Party advocated secularism, pan-Arabism, and socialism. The following year, the new leader, Abdel Salam Arif, consolidated his power by driving out the Baath Party. In 1966, he died in a helicopter crash. His brother, Gen. Abdel Rahman Arif, assumed the presidency, crushed the opposition, and won an indefinite extension of his term in 1967.
 
Arif’s regime was ousted in July 1968 by a junta led by Maj. Gen. Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr of the Baath Party. Bakr and his second-in-command, Saddam Hussein, imposed authoritarian rule. A leading producer of oil in the world, Iraq used its oil revenues to develop one of the strongest military forces in the region.
 
On July 16, 1979, Bakr was succeeded by Saddam Hussein, whose regime steadily developed an international reputation for strict internal security, repression, human rights abuses, and terrorism. A long-standing territorial dispute over control of the Shatt-al-Arab waterway between Iraq and Iran broke into full-scale war on September 20, 1980, when Iraq invaded western Iran. The eight-year war cost the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people and finally ended in a UN-brokered cease-fire in 1988. Poison gas was used by Iraqi forces on Iranian soldiers and civilians and Kurds, including the horrific Mrach 1988 attack on Halabja, which reportedly killed thousands.
 
In July 1990, Hussein asserted territorial claims on Kuwaiti land. A mediation attempt by Arab leaders failed, and on August 2, 1990, Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait and set up a puppet government. The UN imposed trade sanctions against Iraq to pressure it to withdraw. On January 18, 1991, UN forces, under the leadership of US General Norman Schwarzkopf, launched Operation Desert Storm, liberating Kuwait in less than a week. UN forces suffered minimal casualties, while Iraqi deaths ranged from 20,000 to 200,000, depending on the source.
 
While Iraq was reeling from the US-led assault on its military, rebellions by both Shiites and Kurds were encouraged by American agents. These rebellions were brutally crushed when the US refused to step in and help. In 1991, the UN set up a northern no-fly zone to protect Iraq’s Kurdish population. The following year a southern no-fly zone was established as a buffer between Iraq and Kuwait and to protect Shiites. The US and Great Britain effectively implemented the no-fly zones and Saddam Hussein’s power was severely diminished.
 
UN trade sanctions continued after the end of the Gulf War, barring Iraq from selling oil except in exchange for food and medicine. The sanctions against Iraq failed to bring about a change in leadership, as the US had hoped, but they did cause catastrophic suffering among the Iraqi people. The country's infrastructure was in ruins, and disease, malnutrition, and the infant mortality rate skyrocketed.
 
A UN weapons inspections team was mandated to inspect Iraqi facilities and labs to make sure no weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, biological) and ballistic arms were still in possession of Iraq after the war. In November 1997, Hussein expelled the American members of the UN inspections team, a standoff that stretched on until February 1998. In August, Hussein halted all UN inspections. On December 16, the United States and Britain began Operation Desert Fox, consisting of four days of intensive air strikes. From then on, the US and Britain conducted hundreds of air strikes on Iraqi targets within the no-fly zones. The sustained low-level warfare continued unabated into 2003.
 
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the US, President George W. Bush began calling for a “regime change” in Iraq, describing the nation as part of an “axis of evil.” The alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction, the thwarting of UN weapons inspections, Iraq’s alleged links to terrorism (including al Qaeda), as well as Saddam Hussein’s despotism and human rights abuses were the major reasons cited for necessitating a preemptive strike against the country. The Arab world and much of Europe condemned the hawkish and unilateral stance and suspected that Bush and his administration were really after Iraq’s oil. The UK, however, supported the US. On September 12, 2002, Bush addressed the UN, challenging the organization to swiftly enforce its own resolutions against Iraq, or else the US would act on its own. On November 8, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution imposing tough new arms inspections on Iraq, which began weeks later.
 
The UN reported at the end of January 2003 that “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it.” While the Bush administration felt the report cemented its claim that a military solution was imperative, several permanent members of the UN Security Council—France, Russia, and China—urged that the UN inspectors be given more time to complete their task. Bush and Blair continued to call for war, insisting that they would go ahead with a “coalition of the willing,” if not with UN support. All diplomatic efforts ceased by March 17, when President Bush delivered an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave the country within 48 hours.
 
On March 20, the war against Iraq began with the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Within three weeks, American forces took control of the capital, Baghdad, signaling the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, although the Iraqi dictator was nowhere to be found. After eight months of searching, the US military captured Saddam Hussein on December 13. In December 2006, he was tried, found guilty of crimes against humanity and executed.
 
Turmoil and violence in Iraq increased throughout 2004, as Sunni and Shiites battled for power, and opposition to the US occupation grew. Civilians, Iraqi security forces, foreign workers, and coalition soldiers were subject to suicide bombings, kidnappings, and beheadings. By April, a number of separate uprisings had spread throughout the Sunni triangle and in the Shiite-dominated south. In September alone there were 2,300 attacks by insurgents.
 
Reconstruction efforts, hampered by bureaucracy and security concerns, fell short of US expectations. Electricity and clean water were in short supply, and half of Iraq’s employable population was still without work. In late April, the physical and sexual abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad came to light when photographs were released by the US media. The images sparked outrage around the world.
 
On June 28, 2004, the US allowed its Iraqi allies to establish a new government. Former exile and Iraqi Government Council member Iyad Allawi became prime minister of the Iraqi interim government, and Ghazi al-Yawar, a Sunni Muslim, was chosen president.
 
In January 2005 elections were held to select a 275-seat national assembly. A coalition of Shiites, the United Iraq Alliance, received 48% of the vote, the Kurdish parties received 26% of the vote, and the Sunnis just 2%—due to the fact that most Sunni leaders had called for a boycott. In April, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, became president, and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a religious Shiite, prime minister. The elections, however, did not stem the insurgency, which grew increasingly sectarian during 2005 and predominantly involved Sunni insurgents targeting Shiite and Kurdish civilians in suicide bombings. The death toll for Iraqi civilians was estimated to have reached 30,000 since the start of the war.
 
In August 2005, after three months of fractious negotiations, Iraqi lawmakers completed a draft constitution that supported the aims of Shiites and Kurds, but was deeply unsatisfactory to the Sunnis. In October a constitutional referendum narrowly passed, making way for parliamentary elections on December 15 to select the first full-term, four-year parliament since Saddam Hussein was overthrown. In January 2006, election results showed the United Iraqi Alliance—a coalition of Shiite Muslim religious parties that had dominated the existing government—had garnered the most votes, but not enough to rule without forming a coalition. It took another four months of bitter wrangling before a coalition government was finally formed. Sunni Arab, Kurdish, and secular officials continued to reject the Shiite coalition’s nomination for head of state—interim prime minister al-Jaafari.. The deadlock was finally broken in late April when Nuri al-Maliki, who, like Jaafari, belonged to the Shiite Dawa Party, was approved as prime minister.
 
On February 23, 2006, Sunni insurgents bombed and seriously damaged the Shiites’ most revered shrine in Iraq, the Askariya Shrine in Samarra. The bombings ignited ferocious sectarian attacks between Shiites and Sunnis. More than a thousand people were killed over several days, and Iraq seemed poised for full-scale civil war. Meanwhile, al-Maliki refused to abandon his political ties with Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric who led the powerful Madhi militia.
 
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the most-wanted terrorist in the country, was killed by a US bomb on June 7, 2006. Zarqawi was responsible for many of the most brutal and horrific attacks in Iraq. But his death did little to stem the violence. The UN announced that an average of more than 100 civilians were killed in Iraq each day. During the first six months of the year, civilian deaths increased by 77%. The UN also reported that about 1.6 million Iraqis were internally displaced, and up to 1.8 million refugees had fled the country.
 
At the end of July, the US announced it would move more troops into Baghdad from other regions of Iraq, in an attempt to bring security to the country’s capital, which was increasingly subject to lawlessness, violence, and sectarian strife. But by October, the military acknowledged that its 12-week-old campaign to establish security in Baghdad had been unsuccessful.
 
In June 2007, three Iraqi army officials, including Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam Hussein who was known as “Chemical Ali,” were convicted and sentenced to death for carrying out the murder of about 50,000 Kurds in 1988—what was called the Anfal campaign.
 
The stability of the Iraqi government further deteriorated in August 2007, when the Iraqi Consensus Front, the largest Sunni faction in Prime Minister al-Maliki’s cabinet, resigned, citing the Shiite-led government's failure to stem violence by militias and involve Sunnis in decisions on security. August also saw the deadliest attack of the war. Two pairs of truck bombs exploded about five miles apart in the remote, northwestern Iraqi towns of Qahtaniya and Jazeera. At least 500 members of the minority Yazidi community were killed and hundreds more were wounded.
 
Towards the end of 2007 the US military reported that for several consecutive weeks, the number of car bombs, roadside bombs, mines, rocket attacks, and other violence had fallen to the lowest level in nearly two years. In addition, the Iraqi Red Crescent reported that some 25,000 refugees (out of about 1.5 million) who had fled to Syria had returned to Iraq between September and the beginning of December.
 
On January 8, 2008, the Iraqi Parliament passed the Justice and Accountability Law, which allowed many Baathists to resume the government jobs they lost after the US-led invasion. The law was considered a major benchmark of political progress by the Iraqi government, although it was also criticized for being vague and confusing, and its many loopholes excluded more Baathists from government jobs than it allowed.
 
Parliament passed another round of legislation in February, which included a law that outlined provincial powers and an election timetable, a 2008 budget, and an amnesty law that would affect thousands of mostly Sunni Arab prisoners. However, a divided Iraqi Presidency Council vetoed the package.
 
In March, about 30,000 Iraqi troops and police, with air support from the US and British military, attempted to oust Shiite militias, primarily the Mahdi Army led by radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr, in Basra. The operation failed, and the Mahdi Army maintained control over much of Basra. More than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers either refused to participate in the operation or deserted their posts. The Iraqi government later fired those who refused to fight.
 
Iraq History (Arab Gateway)
 

 

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Iraq's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Iraq

A booklet handed out to US soldiers on their way to Iraq included this piece of prescient advice: “That tall man in the flowing robe you are going to see soon, with the whiskers and the long hair, is a first-class fighting man, highly skilled in guerilla warfare. Few fighters in any country, in fact, excell [sic] him in that kind of situation. If he is your friend, he can be a staunch and valuable ally. If he should happen to be your enemy—look out!” That booklet, A Short Guide to Iraq, was produced by the United States Army and given to American soldiers…in 1942, when US troops invaded Iraq in support of British troops.

 
The United States first established diplomatic relations with Iraq in 1931. In 1967 the military regime of Iraq broke off relations with the US, and formal relations did not resume until 1984. However, low-level talks between Washington and Baghdad did take place during the early years of the Reagan administration, as the US sought to build a surreptitious alliance in response to Iraq’s war with Iran.
 
In June 1982 President Reagan approved a National Security Decision Directive that declared the US would do whatever was necessary to prevent Iraq from losing its war against Iran. Reagan also removed Iraq from the State Department’s list of terrorist sponsors (which the Carter administration had implemented in 1979). This meant that Iraq was now eligible for US dual-use and military technology.
 
The following year, the State Department once again reported that Iraq was continuing to support terrorist groups. Also, Iraq began using chemical weapons against Iranian troops. Nevertheless, the Secretaries of Commerce and State pressured the National Security Council to approve the sale to Iraq of Bell helicopters “for crop dusting.”
In late 1983, Reagan secretly allowed Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt to transfer US weapons to Iraq. Reagan also asked the Italian prime minister to channel arms to Iraq. Also, in December 1983, Donald Rumsfeld paid a visit to Saddam Hussein in Baghdad as Reagan's envoy. Rumsfeld later claimed that the meeting was about terrorism in Lebanon. But State Department documents showed that, in fact, Rumsfeld was carrying a message from Reagan expressing his desire to have a closer and better relationship with Saddam Hussein.
 
In 1984 the CIA began secretly giving information to Iraqi intelligence to help them “calibrate” poison gas attacks against Iranian troops. The following year, the CIA established direct intelligence links with Saddam Hussein’s regime and began giving Iraq “data from sensitive US satellite reconnaissance photography” to help in the war.
The US House of Representatives passed a bill in 1984 to put Iraq back on State Department’s supporters of terrorism list. The Reagan administration pressured the bill’s sponsor to drop the legislation. The bill was dropped, and Iraq remained off the terrorist list.
Between 1985 and 1990 the Commerce Department approved the sale of numerous computers to Iraq’s weapons lab. (UN inspectors in 1991 found that 40% of the equipment in Iraq’s weapons lab were of US origin.) More importantly, the Reagan administration approved in 1985 the export to Iraq of biological cultures that were precursors to bioweapons the Iraqis developed, including anthrax and botulism. There were more than 70 shipments of such cultures between 1985 and 1988. The George H. W. Bush administration authorized an additional eight shipments of biological cultures that the Centers for Disease Control classified as “having biological warfare significance.”
 
The Reagan administration also approved exports that helped expand Iraq’s SCUD missile program. These exports allowed the Iraqis to extend the range of their SCUD missiles, which proved fatal to several Israelis during the Gulf War, when Iraq launched numerous SCUD attacks against Israel.  
In the last year of Reagan’s second term, officials prevented the Senate from putting sanctions on Iraq for its violation of the Geneva Protocol on Chemical Weapons. Reagan’s envoy to the UN voted against a UN Security Council statement condemning Iraq’s use of chemical weapons.
In 1989 the Bush administration approved dozens of export licenses for sophisticated dual-use equipment to Iraq’s weapons ministry,even after the Halabja gas attacks. In October, international banks cut off all loans to Iraq. The Bush administration responded by issuing National Security Directive 26, which mandated closer links with Iraq and included a $1 billion loan guarantee. This directive was suspended only on August 2, 1990, the day Iraq invaded Kuwait.
 
But between July 18 and August 1 (the day before the invasion), the Bush Administration approved $4.8 million in advanced technology sales to Iraq’s weapons ministry and to weapons labs that were known to have worked on biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.
 
Shortly after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, President Bush ordered the deployment of thousands of American military personnel to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield, to prevent Saddam Hussein from expanding his conquest into the oil-rich kingdom. In time, 12 other countries sent forces to Saudi Arabia to help support Operation Desert Storm in January 1991. The US-led attack against Iraq began with a ferocious air campaign designed to destroy Iraq’s air force and weaken its substantial ground forces. When the ground invasion finally began, Iraqi conscripts put up little fight, and US armored divisions easily chewed up Iraqi defenses which had already suffered substantial losses from aerial bombardments and tactical strikes.
 
The US attack was so effective, in fact, that American forces had a clear shot at Baghdad, and Saddam Hussein himself, had US military leaders been given the green light by President Bush to topple the dictator. However, as Bush later stated in the 1998 book. A World Transformed, which he co- with his National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, “Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq… would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible….We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under the circumstances, there was no viable ‘exit strategy’ we could see, violating another of our principles…. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.”
 
Many key people in the Bush White House also feared that taking out Saddam might cause the dissolution of the Iraq state, what with Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south seeking to break away. In fact, immediately after the war, the Bush administration and American intelligence operatives encouraged rebellious Kurdish and Shiite movements to rise up against the regime. But when Saddam ordered his military to crush the insurrections, the US turned its back on the Kurds and Shiites, who were subjected to ruthless attacks.
 
Instead of seeking to remove Saddam Hussein from power, the Bush administration, and later the Clinton administration, chose to leave the tyrant in power, albeit with a severely weakened military. The US also continued to apply pressure on the UN to maintain sanctions against Iraq.
 
During the remainder of the 1990s, the Clinton administration turned a blind eye to Iraqi efforts that thwarted the UN embargo on oil exports (except for those that aided humanitarian programs). The Clinton administration justified allowing Iraq to sell oil to Turkey and Jordan, saying it was “in the national interest because we depended on the stability in Turkey and the stability in Jordan to encircle Saddam Hussein,” according to a declassified State Department document. More than 60% of Iraq’s legal oil exports were purchased by US companies.
 
The Gulf War (PBS Frontline)
Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984 (National Security Archive, George Washington University)
Documents: U.S. condoned Iraq oil smuggling (by Elise Labott and Phil Hirschkorn, CNN)
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Current U.S. Relations with Iraq

Relations between Iraq and the US this decade have been dominated by events stemming from the American invasion in March 2003. Similarly to the Gulf War in 1991, US military forces had little trouble battling Saddam Hussein’s army. Only this time US Marines and Army units didn’t stop short, and instead pushed through to Baghdad, causing the Iraqi dictator to flee and his regime to collapse. President George W. Bush declared a short time later that the war was over and that it was just a matter of getting Iraq back on its feet.

 
This optimistic assessment proved short-sighted. Months after President Bush’s declaration, US forces began to come under intense guerilla attacks, mostly involving the placement of hidden roadside bombs (or improvised explosive devices, IEDs). Since then, more than four thousand American soldiers have died in Iraq.
 
Much of the US military’s work in the early months of the occupation was spent looking for proof of the weapons of mass destruction that the Bush administration claimed to exist, that were the justification for the attack. The months of searching for Iraq’s WMDs, which cost more than $1 billion,  yielded no hard evidence, and the administration and its intelligence agencies came under fire. Then came mounting allegations that the existence of these weapons was exaggerated or distorted as a pretext to justify the war. In fall 2003, President Bush recast the rationale for war, no longer citing the danger of weapons of mass destruction, but instead describing Iraq as “the central front” in the war against terrorism. A free and democratic Iraq, he contended, would serve as a model for the rest of the Middle East.
 
Continued instability in 2003 kept 140,000 American troops (at a cost of $4 billion a month), as well as 11,000 British and 10,000 coalition troops in Iraq. The US launched several tough military campaigns to subdue Iraqi resistance, which also had the effect of further alienating the populace. The rising violence prompted the Bush administration to reverse its Iraq policy in November 2003 and transfer power to an interim government that would take power in July 2004, much earlier than originally planned.
 
In January 2004, the CIA’s chief weapons inspector, David Kay, stated that US intelligence about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction “was almost all wrong.” When the final report on the existence of these weapons in Iraq was issued in October 2004, Kay’s successor, Charles Duelfer, confirmed that there was no evidence of an Iraqi WMD program.
 
On July 9, 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan “Report on Pre-War Intelligence on Iraq,” (PDF) concluding that “most of the major key judgments” on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were “either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence report.” The report also stated that there was no “established formal relationship” between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. The following week, Britain’s Butler report (PDF) on pre-Iraq intelligence echoed the American findings.
 
By December 2005, more than 2,100 American soldiers had died in Iraq and more than 15,000 had been wounded. The absence of a clear strategy for winning the war beyond “staying the course” caused Americans’ support for Bush’s handling of the war to plummet. The US and Iraqi governments agreed that no firm timetable for the withdrawal of US troops should be set, maintaining that this would simply encourage the insurgency. Withdrawal would take place as Iraqi security forces grew strong enough to assume responsibility for the country’s stability. But the training of Iraqi security forces went far more slowly than anticipated. A July 2005 Pentagon report acknowledged that only “a small number” of Iraqi security forces were capable of fighting the insurgency without American help.
 
In February 2006, a US Senate report on progress in Iraq indicated that, despite the US spending $16 billion on reconstruction, every major area of Iraq’s infrastructure was below prewar levels. Incompetence and fraud characterized numerous projects, and by April the US special inspector general was pursuing 72 investigations into corruption by firms involved in reconstruction.
 
In May a number of news stories broke about a report that US Marines had killed 24 Iraqis “in cold blood” in the city of Haditha the previous November 19. The alleged massacre, which included women and children, was said to have been revenge for a bombing that killed a marine. The marines are also alleged to have covered up the killings. The military did not launch a criminal investigation until mid-March, four months after the incident. Several additional sets of separate allegations of civilian murders by US troops also surfaced.
 
In September 2006, a classified National Intelligence Estimate concluded that the “Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse.” By this time, many authorities characterized the conflict as a civil war—as one political scientist put it, the level of sectarian violence is “so extreme that it far surpasses most civil wars since 1945.” The White House, however, continued to reject the term.
 
In December, the bipartisan report by the Iraq Study Group, led by former secretary of state James Baker and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton, concluded that “the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating” and “US forces seem to be caught in a mission that has no foreseeable end.” The report heightened the debate over the US role in Iraq, but President Bush kept his distance from it, indicating that he would wait until January 2007 before announcing a new Iraq strategy.
 
In  January 2007 President Bush announced that a “surge” of 20,000 additional troops would be deployed to Baghdad to try to stem the sectarian fighting. He also said Iraq had committed to a number of “benchmarks,” including increasing troop presence in Baghdad and passing oil-revenue-sharing and jobs-creation plans.
 
A National Intelligence Estimate released in September 2007 concluded that the Iraqi government had failed to end sectarian violence even with the surge of American troops. The report also said that a withdrawal of troops would weaken security gains. In 2008 US casualty rates dropped to less than half the level of 2007.
 
A total of 37,714 people identified themselves as being of Iraqi ancestry in the 2000 US census. About 10,000 of these emigrated in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. These refugees tended to be either persecuted Kurds, or Shi'as who had plotted against Saddam Hussein.
 
In 2006 993 Iraqis visited the US. Only 541 Iraqis came to America in 2002, but since 2004, the number of annual visitors to the US has doubled and remained close to 1,000. There is no data available for Americans traveling to Iraq.
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Where Does the Money Flow

Oil has been the central trade issue with Iraq since the US invasion in 2003. The United States imports very little from Iraq except oil. From 2003 to 2007, American importation of crude oil increased from $4.57 billion to $10.8 billion. Altogether, US imports from Iraq totaled $11.4 billion in 2007.

 
American exports to Iraq are far more diversified, although in total, they amounted to only $1.5 billion in 2007, leaving the United States with a sizeable trade deficit. The top American exports to Iraq from 2003-2007 were wheat ($413 million), parts for military type goods ($267 million), rice ($101 million), telecommunications equipment ($98 million), and meat/poultry ($73 million).
 
In an effort to rebuild Iraq following the destruction levied by the US invasion, the federal government has distributed billions of dollars in federal contracts to American companies. According to the Center for Public Integrity, 125 US businesses have profited from the rebuilding of Iraq, and 17 of them have accumulated earnings in the billions:
 
  1. Kellogg, Brown & Root (Halliburton)                           $10,832,000,000
  2. Parsons Corp.                                                               $5,286,136,252 
  3. Fluor Corp.                                                                   $3,754,964,295
  4. Washington Group International                                    $3,133,078,193
  5. Shaw Group/Shaw E & I                                                $3,050,749,910
  6. Bechtel Group Inc.                                                         $2,829,833,859
  7. Perini Corporation                                                          $2,525,000,000
  8. Contrack International Inc.                                            $2,325,000,000
  9. Tetra Tech Inc.                                                             $1,541,947,671
  10. USA Environmental Inc.                                                $1,541,947,671
  11. CH2M Hill                                                                     $1,528,500,000
  12. American International Contractors, Inc.                       $1,500,000,000
  13. Odebrect-Austin                                                            $1,500,000,000
  14. Zapata Engineering                                                        $1,478,838,958
  15. Environmental Chemical Corporation                             $1,475,000,000
  16. Explosive Ordnance Technologies Inc.                            $1,475,000,000
  17. Stanley Baker Hill L.L.C.                                              $1,200,000,000
 
Several American security firms have profited from the instability in Iraq. Blackwater USA, DynCorp International, and Triple Canopy were hired by the State Department to guard diplomats and other American personnel. Blackwater USA has provided a variety of protective services in Iraq, using 987 employees, of whom 744 are Americans. Blackwater was one of the original companies providing security services to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), including protection for CPA chief Paul Bremer, as well as other CPA employees and visiting dignitaries.
 
DynCorp International has 151 personnel in Iraq (100 are American) to provide police training and related services in Iraq.
 
Triple Canopy employs the largest number of private guards in Iraq, almost 1,500, of which only 224 are American.
 
In addition to those American firms awarded federal contracts, some of the country’s largest oil companies are also doing business in Iraq, such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron, which were awarded technical support contracts by the Iraqi government to access the country’s vast untapped oil fields.
 
The US sold defense articles and services worth $1.683 billion to Iraq in 2007.
 
The US gave $2.116 billion in aid to Iraq in 2007, including $1.959 billion in supplementary funding. The budget allotted the most funds to Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform ($995.1 million), Good Governance ($271.6 million), Civil Society ($220 million), Rule of Law and Human Rights ($187.3), Political Competition and Consensus-Building ($171.9 million). The 2008 budget estimate cut aid in half, to $977.2 million, including $956 million in supplemental funding. The 2009 budget request, which does not include supplemental funding, is for $397 million. The 2009 budget will distribute the most aid to Rule of Law and Human Rights ($78 million), Good Governance ($65 million), Macroeconomic Foundation for Growth ($62 million), and Agriculture ($50 million).
 
U.S. Security Agreements and Iraq (by Greg Bruno, Council on Foreign Relations)
Windfalls of War (Center for Public Integrity)
Private Security Contractors in Iraq (by Elsea, Schwartz and Nakamura, Congressional Research Service)
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Controversies

US Spying on Iraqi Government

In September 2008 allegations surfaced that the US spied on Iraq’s prime minister, prompting Iraqi officials to warn that future ties with the United States could be in jeopardy. The allegations appeared in the book The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008 by journalist Bob Woodward, who wrote that the United States spied extensively on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his staff and other government officials. An aide to al-Maliki said, “If this is true, then we feel sorry about that. We look upon the Americans as our partners. There’s nothing of real value that would require the Americans to spy on us. On top of that, we have nothing to hide from the Americans to make them have to spy on us.”
 
The report emerged as the two governments negotiate over the future of American troops in Iraq. Those talks have already extended past their July 31 deadline and have drawn sharp criticism from Iraqis who want an end to the US presence.
U.S. Spied on Iraqi Leaders, Book Says (by Steve Luxenberg, Washington Post)
 
Halliburton Subsidiary Dropped by Government
Following an audit of its billing to the US Army, KBR Inc., a one-time subsidiary of oil services giant Halliburton, lost its billion-dollar contract to provide food, shelter and communications services to US troops in Iraq. The decision to drop KBR came after several years of attacks from critics who saw the contract as a symbol of politically connected corporations profiteering on the war. KBR’s parent, Halliburton, was once run by Vice President Dick Cheney.
 
Government audits turned up more than $1 billion in questionable costs. Whistle-blowers told how the company charged $45 per case of soda, double-billed on meals and allowed troops to bathe in contaminated water. Company officials denied the allegations. Army officials defended the company’s performance, but also acknowledged that reliance on a single contractor left the government vulnerable.
 
The Pentagon planned to split the work among three companies, with a fourth firm hired to help monitor the performance of the other three. In spite of the controversy, it was announced that KBR would still be eligible to bid on the work. Other companies allowed to bid included Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
 
In August 2007 the US Army announced that it would review as many as 18,000 contracts awarded over the past four years to support US forces in Iraq to determine how many were tainted by waste, fraud and abuse. The contracts collectively were worth almost $3 billion and represented every transaction made between 2003 and 2007 by a contracting office in Kuwait, which the Army had identified as a significant trouble spot.
Army to Examine Iraq Contracts (by Richard Lardner, Associated Press)
Army to End Expansive, Exclusive Halliburton Deal (by Griff Witte, Washington Post)
 
State Dept Contractors Kill Iraqi Citizens
The use of private security companies by the State Department in Iraq came under national scrutiny in September 2006 following a firefight in Baghdad involving a group of Blackwater armed guards. While providing security for a convoy transporting US diplomats, the Blackwater guards opened fire in a traffic circle, killing 17 Iraqis. The company justified the deadly response by claiming the convoy had come under attack from insurgents. Iraqi officials and some US military personnel questioned the accounts of the Blackwater guards. A team of Justice Department and FBI investigators traveled to Iraq to conduct a two-week investigation.
 
A grand jury was convened in late 2007 to examine the shootings. However, federal prosecutors were not sure if the contractors could be prosecuted under US law because of a grant of immunity to Blackwater and other private security companies by the former US occupation government in Iraq. Further complicating the matter was the limited immunity that State Department investigators offered Blackwater guards as part of their investigation into the shootings.
State Dept. Contractors In Iraq Are Reined In (by Karen DeYoung, Washington Post)
Immunity Deals Offered to Blackwater Guards (by David Johnston, New York Times)
 
Blackwater Sniper Kills Iraqi Guards
Prior to the September shooting incident, Blackwater was embroiled in controversy when one of its snipers killed three Iraqi guards. The sniper opened fire from the roof of the Iraqi Justice Ministry, killing a 23-year-old guard for the state-funded Iraqi Media Network, who was standing on a balcony across an open traffic circle. Another guard rushed to his colleague’s side and was fatally shot in the neck. A third guard was found dead more than an hour later on the same balcony.
 
Eight people who responded to the shootings—including media network and Justice Ministry guards and an Iraqi army commander—and five network officials in the compound said none of the slain guards had fired on the Justice Ministry, where an American diplomat was in a meeting. An Iraqi police report described the shootings as “an act of terrorism” and said Blackwater was at fault. The media network concluded that the guards were killed “without any provocation.”
 
State Department officials defended Blackwater’s actions. Based on information from the Blackwater guards, who said they were fired upon, the State Department determined that the security team’s actions “fell within approved rules governing the use of force,” according to a State Department official.
 
US officials and the security company offered no compensation or apology to the victims’ families. “It's really surprising that Blackwater is still out there killing people,” said Mohammed Jasim, the Iraqi Media Network’s deputy director.
 
A Blackwater spokesperson said the company’s guards came under “precision small-arms fire” and that the shooting was absolutely provoked.
 
An internal review of the State Department’s handling of private security contractors found serious deficiencies in the agency’s supervision of contractors, including Blackwater. The State Department’s chief of diplomatic security, Richard J. Griffin, was forced to resign after the report was released.
How Blackwater Sniper Fire Felled 3 Iraqi Guards (by Steve Fainaru, Washington Post)
 
Abu Ghraib
In April 2004, photographs surfaced that depicted abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. Some of the pictures depicted US soldiers, both men and women in military uniforms, laughing and giving thumbs-up signs while posing with naked Iraqi prisoners made to stand, stacked in a pyramid or positioned to perform sex acts.
 
A criminal investigation by the US Army Criminal Investigation Command found numerous instances of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib. The systematic and illegal abuse of detainees was perpetrated by soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company and also by members of the American intelligence community. Both current and former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officers were reportedly at the prison conducting interrogations, including Steven Anthony Stefanowicz, a former Navy reserve intelligence specialist at the Defense Intelligence Agency, who was working as a contractor for CACI International.
 
DIA countered with a memo, written by the agency’s director to a senior Pentagon official, that claimed two members of his agency witnessed the torture and were threatened and told to keep quiet by other military interrogators. The memorandum said that the DIA officials saw prisoners being brought in to a detention center with burn marks on their backs and complaining about sore kidneys.
 
In 2005, DIA pushed for legislation that indicated the agency might have something to hide about Abu Ghraib. A provision in the Defense Authorization Bill would have exempted the DIA from having to comply with requests under the Freedom of Information Act. The exception would render records that document “the conduct of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence operations” of the DIA Directorate of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) unreachable to the public. Opponents dubbed the Defense amendment the “Abu Ghraib Protection Act.”
Exposure: The Woman Behind the Camera at Abu Ghraib (by Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris, New Yorker)
"Big Steve" and Abu Ghraib (by Mark Benjamin and Michael Scherer, Salon)
Is it the “Abu Ghraib Protection Act?” (National Security Archive, George Washington University)
The Gray Zone (by Seymour Hersh, New Yorker)
 
IEDs and Humvees
Once US forces had defeated the Iraqi military and assumed control of the country in 2003, the Pentagon believed the worst of its troubles were over. Little did military planners realize that American casualties not only would continue to mount but would increase at an even higher pace than when soldiers were fighting a full-scale war.
 
Shortly after President Bush declared an end to the fighting, Iraqi guerilla fighters began attacking US combat troops with homemade bombs, or IEDs (improvised explosive devices). The IEDs proved to be especially dangerous to troops riding in Humvees, a vehicle widely used to transport troops. Lacking an armored body, the vehicle became a coffin for American soldiers caught inside when an IED exploded beneath or next to the Humvee.
 
Soon stories began appearing in American newspapers about the vulnerability of the Humvee, and how American troops were scavenging parts from other vehicles to fortify their Humvees with “hillbilly armor” because the Pentagon was slow to respond to the problem. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed his department was doing everything it could to address the problem, but that the manufacturers of the Humvee couldn’t produce modified versions of the vehicle any faster. Not true, said the company, AM General, pointing out that they could increase production if the Pentagon wanted them to.
 
Even when reinforced Humvees arrived in Iraq, another problem arose. The heavily-armored vehicles couldn’t maneuver effectively and were prone to tipping over at certain speeds. In addition, its heavier doors trapped soldiers inside after an attack or accident. The Pentagon then decided to scrap the Humvee altogether and purchase a brand new vehicle designed to withstand mines and other small explosives. All services have ordered a total of 7,700 MRAPs (short for “mine resistant ambush protected”) at a cost of $8 billion.
Troops in Iraq get safer vehicle (by Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today)
Humvee makers dispute Rumsfeld remarks (by George Edmonson, Cox News Service)
 
The Rescue of Jessica Lynch
On March 23, 2003, as US forces continued to battle Iraqi military for control of Iraq, an Army private, Jessica Lynch, was captured after her convoy was ambushed. Suffering numerous broken bones, Lynch wound up in a hospital still controlled by the enemy. A tip from an Iraqi source led to a daring rescue of Lynch by Special Operations soldiers. The story made front-page news as media sources around the country gobbled up the fantastic tale, which turned out to be full of fantasy, thanks to Pentagon spin doctors.
 
It was true that Lynch had been severely injured when her Humvee crashed during an ambush outside Nasiriyah and was taken by captors to a hospital. But it was not true, as the Washington Post reported on April 1, 2003, that Lynch had killed several Iraqis in a gun battle and sustained many gunshot wounds herself. The Post’s erroneous account was seconded by the New York Times and other reputable media outlets. It wasn’t until early May that the story began to fall apart after the Toronto Star reported that Lynch had been well cared for at the hospital, that her captors had left up to two days before the raid and that fire from US forces had prevented hospital staffers from loading her in an ambulance. The BBC confirmed the Star’s account, and later the Post ran a 5,000-word story correcting what had previously been reported.
 
Once the truth was out, critics blasted the Pentagon for manipulating the truth about the rescue in order to gain sympathy for the US operation that was chewing up the country.
Former POW Jessica Lynch Recalls Her Captivity in Iraq (by Anna Mulrine, U.S. News & World Report)
Misleading Information from the Battlefield: The Tillman and Lynch Episodes (House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform)
The Private Jessica Lynch (by Nancy Gibbs, Time)
The truth about Jessica (by John Kampfner, The Guardian)
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Human Rights

Despite the Bush administration’s best efforts to characterize the situation in Iraq in a positive light, the State Department has reported that “significant human rights problems” continue to exist inside the war-torn country.

 
Officials noted a long list of troubles that covered “a pervasive climate of violence; misappropriation of official authority by sectarian, criminal and extremist groups; arbitrary deprivation of life; disappearances; torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; impunity; poor conditions in pretrial detention and prison facilities; denial of fair public trials; delays in resolving property restitution claims; immature judicial institutions lacking capacity; arbitrary arrest and detention; arbitrary interference with privacy and home; other abuses in internal conflicts; limitations on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association due to sectarianism and extremist threats and violence; restrictions on religious freedom; restrictions on freedom of movement; large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees; lack of protection of refugees and stateless persons; lack of transparency and widespread, severe corruption at all levels of government; constraints on international organizations and nongovernmental organizations’ (NGOs) investigations of alleged violations of human rights; discrimination against and societal abuses of women, ethnic, and religious minorities; human trafficking; societal discrimination and violence against individuals based on sexual orientation; and limited exercise of labor rights.”
 
The State Department report for 2007 also said that “sectarian, ethnic and extremist violence, coupled with weak government performance in upholding the rule of law, resulted in widespread, severe, human rights abuses.” Officials admitted that predominantly Shi’a armed paramilitary groups had infiltrated the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and frequently killed and forced Sunnis to leave their homes and move to predominantly Sunni areas.
 
“Death squads” also were reported in the State Department findings, a term that the media has largely avoided using while covering the violence inside Iraq. Some of these death squads were affiliated with the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MOI). The report stated “MOI-affiliated death squads targeted Sunnis and conducted kidnapping raids and killings in Baghdad and its environs. In May 2006 then Minister of Interior Bayan Jabr announced to the press the arrest of a major general and 17 other ministry employees implicated in kidnapping and ‘death squad activities.’ Jabr also noted that that the MOD [Ministry of Defense] found a terror group in its 16th Brigade that carried out ‘killings of citizens.’”
 
During 2007, kidnappings and disappearances remained a severe problem, with many instances attributable to rogue police. There were no new developments in the disappearances of Ali al-Mahdawi, director of Diyala Health Directorate and Sunni nominee to be deputy minister of health; Ahmed al-Mosawi, the head of the Iraq Human Rights Society; approximately 50 persons from the Salhiya neighborhood in Baghdad (reportedly taken by assailants wearing police uniforms); and approximately 70 Ministry of Industry and Minerals employees kidnapped by gunmen at a checkpoint.
 
The State Department found that “numerous and serious reports of torture, abuses, and killings were leveled at MOI’s regional intelligence office in Basrah and the Khadimiyah National Police detention facility in Baghdad.” Former detainees claimed that they suffered severe beatings, electric shocks, sexual assault, suspension by the limbs for long periods, threats of ill-treatment of relatives, and gunshot wounds. Reports of abuse by MOI’s National Police forces and MOD’s battalion-level forces continued to be common.
 
Abusive interrogation practices reportedly occurred in some detention facilities run by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) internal security (Asayish) forces and the KRG intelligence services. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reported finding evidence that investigators disregarded instructions not to employ coercive methods with Asayish detainees in Erbil. Allegations of abuse included application of electric shocks, suspension in stress positions, and severe beatings. In some cases, police threatened and sexually abused detainees, including juveniles.
 
Most detention facilities under MOI and MOD control reportedly did not meet international standards. Many lacked adequate food, exercise facilities, medical care, and family visitation. The detainee population under government control, estimated to number at least 23,000, was high due to mass arrests carried out in security and military operations. Limited infrastructure or aging physical plants in some facilities resulted in marginal sanitation, limited access to water and electricity, and poor quality food. Medical care in MOI and MOD detention facilities was not consistently provided, and rape, torture, and abuse, sometimes leading to death, reportedly occurred in some facilities.
 
The World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators found a severe problem with government corruption. Large-scale corruption pervaded the government, and public perception of government corruption continued to be high. Intimidation and political influence were factors in some allegations of corruption, and officials sometimes used “de-Ba'athification” to further political and personal agendas.
 
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Debate

To Pull Out or Not to Pull Out

 
Keep Fighting
President George W. Bush has insisted that the US must remain in Iraq until “the job is done.” Supporters of keeping American military forces in Iraq argue that the US cannot risk leaving prematurely and allow terrorists to remain in the country. To pull out now would send the wrong message to terrorists—that the United States will retreat from a tough fight. Leaving now would also endanger the long-term security of the Iraqi people. Iraq’s security forces are insufficient to provide the security that the Iraqi people need. A vacuum would be left behind. Most Iraqis fear the chaos of a US pullout, of what would happen next.
 
Withdraw US Troops
Opponents of staying in Iraq argue that the US is doing more harm than good by remaining in the country. American military forces have become a magnet for Islamic terrorists who view the US occupation as an encroachment on Arab and Muslim sovereignty. Remaining in Iraq will only produce more instability for Americans and for the Iraqi people. The sooner the US allows Iraq to take care of its security, the better off everyone will be. The Iraqi security forces have become embedded in the occupation itself and are seen as an extension of the hated and loathed occupation. So they get attacked as collaborators and slaughtered. The best way for them to build up their own forces and their own credibility is to make a clear break with the US occupation, which means immediately announcing a withdrawal of troops and setting up a transition plan.
 
Iraq War Withdrawal and Exit Plans (Project on Defense Alternatives)
When Should the U.S. Withdraw From Iraq? (by Ted Galen Carpenter and James Phillips, Council on Foreign Relations)
Troop Surge vs. Redeployment (Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia)
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Past Ambassadors

Alexander K. Sloan
Appointment: Mar 30, 1931
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 18, 1931
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Oct 19, 1932
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 17, 1931.

 
Paul Knabenshue
Appointment: Aug 5, 1932
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 7, 1932
Termination of Mission: Recess appointment expired, Mar 4, 1933
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate.
Appointment: Mar 17, 1933
Presentation of Credentials: May 18, 1933
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Feb 1, 1942
 
Thomas M. Wilson
Appointment: Aug 13, 1942
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 26, 1942
Termination of Mission: Left Iraq, Sep 19, 1943
 
Loy W. Henderson
Appointment: Jul 8, 1943
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 20, 1943
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 7, 1945
Note: James S. Moose, Jr., was serving as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim when Legation Baghdad was raised to Embassy status, Dec 28, 1946.
 
Lowell C. Pinkerton
Appointment: Apr 30, 1946
Note: Did not serve under this appointment.
 
George Wadsworth
Appointment: Nov 19, 1946
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; did not serve under this appointment.
Appointment: Jan 13, 1947
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 15, 1947
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 26, 1948
 
Edward S. Crocker 2nd
Appointment: Sep 28, 1948
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 12, 1949
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 1, 1952
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Mar 2, 1949.
 
Burton Y. Berry
Appointment: Jun 25, 1952
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 11, 1952
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 3, 1954
 
Waldemar J. Gallman
Appointment: Jul 2, 1954
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 3, 1954
Termination of Mission: Reaccredited when Iraq became a republic; presented new credentials Sep 22, 1958; left post, Dec 14, 1958
Note: Commissioned as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Arab Union, Jul 10, 1958, but did not take oath of office under that appointment, the Arab Union having been dissolved; continued to serve as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Iraq.
 
John D. Jernegan
Appointment: Dec 11, 1958
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 12, 1959
Termination of Mission: Departure requested by Govt. of Iraq, Jun 2, 1962; left post, Jun 11, 1962
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 29, 1959.
 
Robert C. Strong
Appointment: Jun 4, 1963
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 2, 1963
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 13, 1967
Note: Enoch S. Duncan was serving as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim when Iraq severed diplomatic relations with the United States, Jun 7, 1967.
 
Note: The United States resumed diplomatic relations with Iraq on Nov 26, 1984. The U.S. Interests Section in Baghdad was raised to Embassy status on Nov 27, and David G. Newton became Chargé d'Affaires as interim. The U.S. Interests Section had been established in the Belgian Embassy in Baghdad on Oct 1, 1972. The following officers served as head of the Interests Section: Arthur L. Lowrie, Oct 1972–Sep 1975; Marshall W. Wiley, Oct 1975–May 1977; David L. Mack, May 1977–Feb 1978; Edward Peck, Feb 1978–Aug 1980; William L. Eagleton, Jr., Aug 1980–Jun 1984; and David G. Newton, Jun–Nov 1984.
 
David George Newton
Appointment: Jul 12, 1985
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 17, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 19, 1988
 
April Catherine Glaspie
Appointment: Mar 28, 1988
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 5, 1988
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 30, 1990
Note: Renominated Jan 27, 1988; an earlier nomination was not acted upon by the Senate.
 
Note: Joseph C. Wilson served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, Jul 1990–Jan 1991. The Embassy in Baghdad was closed Jan 12, 1991. The United States and its allies began military operations against Iraq Jan 16, 1991. Iraq severed diplomatic relations with the United States Feb 9, 1991.
 
John D. Negroponte
Appointment: Jun 17, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: June 29, 2004
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 17, 2005
 
Zalmay Khalilzad
Appointment: Jun 20, 2005
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 21, 2005
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 26, 2007
 
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Iraq's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Jabir, Jabir Habib

The nation of Iraq, which said goodbye to the last American combat troops only last December, has sent an ambassador to the United States who is a former academic who studied in the West. Dr. Jabir Habib Jabir was appointed ambassador in August 2011 and presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on January 18, 2012. 

 
Born in Baghdad in 1955, Jabir earned a B.S. in Political Science at Baghdad University in 1980 and a PhD in Political Thought from Dundee University in the United Kingdom in 1991, for a thesis entitled, “Modern Islamic Theories of the State, with Special Reference to Rashid Ridha and Ali Abdul-Raziq.” After completing his doctorate and returning to Iraq, Dr. Jabir was appointed lecturer at the Faculty of Law and Political Science at Baghdad University, where he taught from 1991 to 2005 and rose to the position of dean of the political thoughts department. He was also an associate senior lecturer at the Iraqi Justice Institution from 1998 to 1999. During the years when Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, Jabir functioned as an academic, publishing articles and books, supervising graduate students, and occasionally publishing articles in the mainstream press.
 
After the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Hussein, Jabir entered politics and, as a member of the United Iraqi Alliance, was elected in 2005 as a member of the newly-formed Iraqi Parliament, where he served on the Constitution Review Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee. In March 2010, however, running as a member of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, an officially non-sectarian but heavily Shi’a bloc, Jabir lost his seat in parliament even as the Coalition came in second.
 
He was soon hired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responsible for managing its “Arabic Region” Department from 2010 to December 2011. During that time, he wrote on the problem of endemic corruption in the new Iraqi state.
 
Jabir is married and has three sons, Hanen, Ghofran, and Mustafa.
 
 

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Iraq's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Robert Young 9 months ago
Who can I contact to help get approval for a construction job in Iraq. We have US STATE authorization and certification the State of California and have submitted the document we want approved to the Consulate in LA. A MR. Salsami signed to receive our document on 3/3/14. We have been told they will not approve the document. Is there some one we can get to help get this construction job started?

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U.S. Ambassador to Iraq

Beecroft, Robert Stephen
ambassador-image

A career diplomat who has been running the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, since June 1 was nominated on September 10 by President Barack Obama to be the next ambassador there. In mid-June Obama’s original choice for the job, Brett McGurk, was forced to withdraw his candidacy after the revelation of racy emails sent in 2008 between the married diplomat, then stationed in Baghdad, and reporter Gina Chon, whom he later married.

 

Born circa 1961, Beecroft earned a BA from Brigham Young University in 1982 and a JD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1988. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in Venezuela, circa 1982-1984. He told LDS Church News, “"I distinctly remember my father taking me aside and teaching me to look for the person in need. He used to send my brothers and me out at Christmas time with money in envelopes to anonymously deposit in the mailboxes of people in our community who were in need.”

 

Before joining the Foreign Service in 1994, Beecroft practiced law in San Francisco. Overseas, Beecroft has specialized in Middle East affairs, serving at the embassies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Damascus, Syria. Beecroft’s assignments in Washington have included service in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and Executive Secretariat. He served as special assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and as executive assistant to Secretaries of State Colin Powell (from 2004 to 2005) and Condoleezza Rice (from 2005 to 2008). 

 

He returned to the Middle East to serve as ambassador at the embassy in Amman, Jordan, from July 17, 2008 to June 4, 2011. He joined the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, as deputy chief of mission on July 14, 2011, and became chargé d’affaires upon the departure of Ambassador James Jeffrey on June 1, 2012.

 

He is married to Anne Tisdel Beecroft, who also earned a BS at BYU in 1982, as well as a JD from BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1985. The couple has four children, Blythe, Warren, Sterling and Grace.

-Matt Bewig

 

Official Biography

Ambassador Stephen Beecroft Receives Human Rights Award (by Page Johnson, LDS Church News)

A Diplomatic Life (by Brittany Karford Rogers, BYU Magazine)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Iraq

Hill, Christopher
ambassador-image

Christopher R. Hill, President Barack Obama’s first choice for ambassador to Iraq, is a career diplomat who was Washington’s top nuclear negotiator with North Korea. He speaks three languages—Polish, Serbo-Croatian and Macedonian—but not Arabic, which is representative of his lack of Middle East experience or knowledge. This fact caused some Senate Republicans to oppose his nomination, but he was confirmed, 72-23, on April 21, 2009. However, his term in Iraq was relatively brief, ending August 15, 2010.
 
Born August 10, 1952, in Paris, France, Hill’s father served in the Foreign Service. He grew up in Little Compton, Rhode Island, and attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he played lacrosse and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics.
 
After college, Hill served for two years with the Peace Corps in Cameroon, where helped create a system of microcredit. He then joined the State Department in 1977.
 
His early Foreign Service work included tours at the US embassies in Belgrade, Warsaw, Seoul, and Tirana. He also served on the State Department’s policy planning staff and in the department’s Operation Center. While on a fellowship with the American Political Science Association, he served as a staff member for Congressman Stephen Solarz (D-New York) working on Eastern European issues. He also served as the State Department’s Senior Country Officer for Poland. 
 
He received a master’s degree from the Naval War College in 1994.  
 
Hill later served as special assistant to the President and senior director for Southeast European Affairs on the National Security Council. From 1996 to 1999, he was US ambassador to Macedonia. During this time, protesters attacked the American Embassy in 1999 over NATO air strikes in Yugoslavia to stop Serbian attacks against the Albanian enclave of Kosovo. Unlike most overseas missions, the US Embassy in Macedonia did not have any US Marine guards for security. The protesters quickly overran the embassy’s perimeter and began to use the embassy flagpole as a battering ram. When a top State Department official called Hill during the crisis to ask where his Marines were, Hill sardonically replied he didn’t have any—but thankfully there were Marines at the embassy in Luxembourg.
 
Also during his time as ambassador to Macedonia, Hill doubled as special envoy to Kosovo (1998-1999).
 
In 2000, he was appointed ambassador to Poland, serving until 2004, when he finally got his wish after several years of lobbying and became ambassador to South Korea. In Seoul, Hill broke with diplomatic precedent by visiting universities and with groups expressing fierce anti-American positions. He gave speeches and had debates with US critics, which won him respect among some South Koreans.

Just eight months into his assignment, Hill was named head of the U.S. delegation of the Six-Party Talks on North Korea to discuss the nuclear ambitions of Kim Jong-il’s regime. He was then promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in April 2005.
 
Brownback Promises Battle On Iraq Nominee (by Kirk Victor, National Journal)
 

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