Critics, supporters in standoff over whether America has succeeded in Iraq

November 26th, 2008 - 5:01 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama

Washington, Nov.26 (ANI): In May 2007, at the start of the troop “surge” that is credited with quelling much of the violence in Iraq, the U.S. Congress had established 18 benchmarks that it would use to determine whether America was succeeding there.
Now, a year and a half later, there is a mixed reaction to whether those benchmarks have been met.
Fox News quotes White House officials as saying that Iraq has met most of the goals, rendering the benchmarks irrelevant, but others say Iraq still has a lot of work to do.
The Government Accountability Office cited that there was little improvement in the political and economic areas and noted continuing military problems despite a significant decline in overall violence.
The White House, which in May declared to Congress that Iraq’’s efforts on 15 benchmarks were “satisfactory” — told that it didn”t have an update on benchmarks.
“For the most part, they are not a relevant metric any longer. There are better metrics more relevant now than these that are about two years old,” spokesman Gordon Johndroe said via e-mail.
But critics say only a few benchmarks have been met.
The Center for American Progress declared in a report in September that only four of the 18 benchmarks had been met, crediting the troop surge with reducing violence in Iraq but failing to deliver on its central objective: “achieving a sustainable power consolidation among Iraq’’s different political forces.”
Iraqi lawmakers are expected to vote Wednesday on a pact that would remove U.S. combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns by June 30, and remove all U.S. troops from the country by January 1, 2012. The pact would also reduce the autonomy of the remaining American forces there.
Critics say the lack of attention to the 18 benchmarks does not signal that America has succeeded in Iraq.
Here is a list of all benchmarks that Iraq needed to meet:
Perform a Constitutional review;
Enact and implement de-Ba-athification reform legislation;
Ensure equal distribution of hydrocarbon resources to Iraqis;
Form semi-autonomous regions;
Hold provincial elections;
Enact and implement legislation addressing amnesty;
Disarm militias;
Establish support for Baghdad Security Plan;
Ensure minority rights in Iraqi legislature;
Keep Iraqi Security Forces free from partisan interference;
Provide military support in Baghdad;
Empower Iraqi Security Forces;
Ensure Iraqi Security Forces provide impartial law enforcement;
Reduce sectarian violence;
Establish neighborhood security in Baghdad;
Increase the number of independent Iraqi security forces;
Allocate and spend 10 billion dollars in Iraq revenues equally and
Ensure that Iraq’’s political authorities do not undermine or make false accusations against members of the Iraqi Security Forces.
In May 2008 the White House concluded that only two of the benchmarks — enacting and implementing laws to disarm militias and distribute oil revenues — were unsatisfactory.
The State Department issued its own evaluation in April and determined that all but one of the benchmarks — ensuring that Iraqi Security Forces are not undermined by political authorities — had been met.
It is unknown whether President-elect Barack Obama will use these benchmarks to measure the progress of the Iraqi government. He has said he wants to withdraw combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office in January, an even speedier timetable than the one outlined in the security pact. (ANI)

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