New report offers grim outlook for Iraq

Updated: 2008-04-07 09:32

WASHINGTON -- A report released Sunday by a Washington thinktank offered a pretty grim outlook of Iraq.

The report from the US Institute of Peace concluded that political progress in Iraq has been "so slow, halting and superficial, and social and political fragmentation so pronounced, that the United States is no closer to being able to leave Iraq than it was a year ago."

Iraq's Parliament Speaker Mahmud al-Mashhadani addresses the national reconciliation conference in Baghdad in March 2008. [Agencies]

"Lasting political development could take five to ten years of full, unconditional US commitment to Iraq," it said.

The report also came up with some proposals on how the United States could reduce its presence in Iraq.

In one option, it suggested that Washington make future US support conditional on the Iraqis reaching a set of political goals that result in a decentralized government.

The carrot would be that the United States maintain a significantly reduced presence to support such a government and train security forces.

But if the Iraqis fail to act, the second option will be unconditional withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, while expanding security operations outside of Iraq, bolstering US diplomatic efforts and continuing political support for the Iraqi government.

However, the report said the option "risks a complete failure of the Iraqi state, massive chaos and even genocide", which would require the United States to intervene."

The report came out as top US commander in Iraq David Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker are scheduled to testify at the Capitol Hill early next week on the situation in Iraq.

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