GAO: Despite gains, Iraq situation is 'fragile'
July 25, 2008
Though violence in Iraq has dropped 80 percent since June of last year, only 10 percent of Iraqi security forces are capable of conducting missions without U.S. support and only a quarter of the country’s reconstruction budget has been spent, according to a report issued Wednesday.
The new report, issued by the Government Accountability Office, charted the considerable security and infrastructure gains made over the past year, but pointed to significant challenges still facing the effort in Iraq.
"The situation remains fragile," the report said.
GAO officials cautioned that the troop "surge" and other aspects of a revamped Iraq strategy need to be followed up with a plan to cement the gains that have been made.
"The security situation remains volatile and dangerous," the report reads. "DOD reports that the U.S. has not achieved its goal of defeating al-Qaida in Iraq, local security forces (such as Sons of Iraq) have not reconciled with the central government, and the cease-fire agreement with the Mahdi Army remains tenuous."
Legislatively, the Iraqi government has advanced on several fronts, but it is still lagging on legal frameworks for oil revenue, disarming militias and — perhaps most importantly — holding provincial elections scheduled for this year.
Regarding the economy, the GAO found that the Iraqi government has spent only 24 percent of the $27 billion it has budgeted for reconstruction projects between 2005 and 2007. And "although oil production improved for short periods, the July 2008 average crude oil production capacity of about 2.5 million barrels per day was below the U.S. goal of 3.0 million barrels a day."
Also, the daily supply of electricity in Iraq is still only half the demand.
The report also noted that from fiscal 2001 through July 2008, Congress has approved more than $800 billion for the Pentagon and the "Global War on Terrorism." That figure did not include an additional $48 billion for stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Iraq.
The report was based on documents provided by the Departments of Defense, State and Treasury, along with interviews with U.S. and Iraqi military and civilian officials in the country. Since 2003, the GAO has issued some 140 Iraq-related reports.