by Ben P
Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 03:08:24 AM EST
PINR, the acronym for Power and Interest News Report, an international intellegince/strategic forecasting agency that provides priceless analysis of all parts of the world, has just released its first report on Iraq in since late December and its first since last week's mosque bombing. (for early analysis of the Iraqi elections, see here) I have been waiting for PINR to weigh in, and this report puts the dots together for in a way I had not been able to do on my own. The upshot of the report is that the US's goals main goals are now largely unachievable and that the political/military conflicts in the country are now, for all intents and purposes, outside the United States's hands.
So what, you ask. Why should I care what this PINR thinks? Well, this isn't just some newspaper columnist or academic pontificating, even a good one. This is a serious organization with a long list of important and powerful global clients. They aren't paid to make idle guesses. According to their website,
The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an independent organization that utilizes open source intelligence to provide conflict analysis services in the context of international relations. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader.
PINR releases, free to the public, three types of analysis. The primary type of analysis is our in-depth reports, usually released on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The goal of this type of analysis is to provide readers an understanding of a conflict using the methods of power and interest political science; these analyses flesh out the historical basis and current state of a conflict and offer long-term guidance on the issues involved.
The second type of analysis is the Intelligence Brief, released on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These analyses are brief in length and do not provide as many details as the in-depth reports. They do, however, often contain links to past in-depth reports in case the reader needs more information on a particular point. The purpose of the Intelligence Brief is to provide the latest information on a particular conflict and to provide "actionable intelligence" to readers who are affected by that conflict.
The third type of analysis is the Economic Brief. This new service offers brief analyses on conflicts over strategic markets and products, the power relationships behind multilateral deals and agreements, instances of economic nationalism and its effects on corporate competition and geopolitics, and competition among currencies and its geopolitical significance. Other economic subjects that relate to these subject areas may also be covered in the Economic Brief.
Organizations that have utilized PINR's analyses include, but are not limited to:
United States Army
United States Air Force
United States Defense Intelligence Agency
United States Agency for International Development
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Voice of America
Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center
Australian Department of Defense
Government Information Office, Republic of China on Taiwan
Taiwan Institute of Economic Research
Center for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
WGN Radio 720 Chicago
Southwest Florida Public Radio
Chicago Public Radio
Boston Public Radio
Monterey Institute's Center for Nonproliferation Studies
Russian American Nuclear Security Advisory Council
American Enterprise Institute
Times of Central Asia
Australian National University
Global Policy Forum
World Security Network
So in other words, as you can see, these folks are serious. Now on to the meat of their latest report. The whole thing is quite long, and I encourage you to read it all, as it goes into a great deal of depth about recent political, social, and economic developments within the country.
Rather than extensively summarize this background, the upshot is that each of the three major groups within the states borders of Iraq have "red lines" upon which they are unwilling to compromise. Zalmay Khalizad's recent public "pressure," is, in this context not so much a bargaining device as it is a sign of frustration and, perhaps, resignation at the intractability of this process.
Beyond this, however, the report highlighted several major developments that have completely flown under the radar of the western media which I'd like to highlight:
According to a study conducted by the Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs which was released in January
- poverty in Iraq has increased 30% since 2003
- 2 million Iraqi families live under the "international povery line," which is determined at one dollar per day per person
- thus, by the extremely low "international standards," 20% of Iraqis now live in poverty. Mind you, "poverty" by "international standards" means living on $1 or less or day.
- this poverty is attributed by the report to "the rise in unemployment, violence, and the decline in public sector and civil service jobs," all of which disproportionately effect the Sunni population
As to the Sunni population, a survery
conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes and reported in the Washington Times in February 1 found that:
- only 5% of Sunni Arabs "approved of" the December 15 elections
- 92% of Sunni Arabs think the government elected on the 15th is illegitimate
- and 88% approved of attacks of US forces
A final interesting tidbit is some of the stuff the report provides about the Kurds, who have been largely silent in the recent Sunni-Shi'ite standoff. Indeed, a telling interview given by Massoud Barzani (leader of the PDK, one of the two major Kurdish Parties) to Al-Arabiya television on February 10:
Barzani said that Kurdistan would secede from Iraq if a Sunni-Shi'a civil war broke out and forthrightly declared that the Kurds had a right to their own independent state, although "we are aware of the international and internal circumstances" standing in the way of one.
Also on the Kurdish front, US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad recently published an opinion piece (the report doesn't say where, I found this link to the article in question at Kurd Media stressing the need for a national unity government, which to Iraqi Shi'ite and Kurdish eyes, appears (as does much of Khalilzad's rhetoric) as arguing the Sunni position foursquare. Indeed, as the PINR report argues, Khalilzad, usually lauded in the western press as a diplomatic miracle worker (certainly an exaggeration, although he is a very good and experienced diplomat) is see as having "incorporated the entire Sunni position into his list of demands," and thus is no longer seen as a credible broker by either the Kurds or Shi'ites.
In this vein, in a response article by Kurdish political advisor Rebwah Fatah, also appearing in Kurdish media sources (which I have also traced to the same Kurdish Media website, argued the following, which actually kind of shocked me:
Khalilzad's blueprint for Iraqi national unity will be as successful as the British Iraq. The difference is that in the early 20th century, imposing superficial nation-states over ethnic and religious groups was possible by bloodshed, but in the 21st century, the mission of Iraqi national unity shall remain a myth.
To sum up the importance of this, an advisor/political scientist to the US's principal ally within the Iraqi state is comparing the US's role presently to that of the British in the aftermath of WWI , . .
To conclude, the report puts the dots together:
The moment of reckoning has arrived in post-Ba'athist Iraq and none of the major players shows a trace of the will to compromise that would be necessary to construct a genuine nation-state, in which diverse social groups have an overriding commitment to live together.
Even if civil war is averted in the short term and a government is formed, that government will not be a genuine national-unity administration, but an arena of conflict between contending power groups. In one of the most astute observations on the situation by an Iraqi politician, Abdul-Mahdi -- the S.C.I.R.I.-backed candidate in the U.I.A.'s election for the prospective prime minister -- shrugged off his loss, saying that any new government would not be popular and would not be likely to serve out a four-year term.
A weak central government, which seems to be inevitable, will be starved for funds and will have trouble enforcing security given the preponderant slide toward confederal regionalism. Ministerial portfolios will be allocated according to ethnic-religious groups, and ministries will tend to coalesce into self-enclosed fiefdoms -- as they already have in the transitional government -- that effectively resist coordinated direction from high political officials. With each major bloc demanding positions with real power, there will not be enough to go around and dissatisfaction will build among those who feel they have been slighted.
Most importantly, the red lines that the contending players have drawn are not preliminary negotiating positions, but reflect deeply embedded perceptions of vital interests that are resistant to reconciliation.
Washington has neither the trust nor the credibility nor the resources to impose its blueprint and will have to watch its efforts unravel. Fatah, the Kurdish analyst, perceptively observed that "the frustration that Khalilzad demonstrates in his article could be interpreted as some degree of a resignation." Increasingly resigned to the collapse of all its plans for Iraq, Washington has been placed in a no-win situation. It has no prospect of a graceful exit and seems fated to preside helplessly over Iraq's disintegration.