U.S. Report Finds Security Deteriorating in Iraqhttp://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/31/world/middleeast/31iraq.html
BAGHDAD — Over the past year, security in Iraq has deteriorated and electricity shortages and corruption have continued unabated, according to a report released Saturday by a special inspector appointed by Congress to oversee Iraq’s reconstruction.
The report, released five months before the United States is scheduled to withdraw 47,000 troops from Iraq, paints a bleaker picture of the country’s stability than assessments by diplomatic officials.
“Iraq remains an extraordinarily dangerous place to work,” said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., who has run the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction since its creation in 2004.
“Buttressing this conclusion is the fact that June was the deadliest month for U.S. troops in more than two years,” he added. “Shia militias — possibly armed and trained by Iran — were responsible for some of the lethal attacks.”
In particular, Mr. Bowen said that Diyala Province, a region east of Baghdad that is one of the most violent battlegrounds for sectarian violence, remained unstable. He added that local officials were extremely pessimistic about security and the economy.
“In July meetings about the security situation the province’s chief prosecutor remarked that every time he steps outside his house, it ‘is a walk into the unknown,’ ” the report said.
There have been several significant attacks in Diyala in recent months. And on Saturday, at least nine civilians were wounded in two separate attacks in the province, local security officials said.
The report said that Iraqis had significantly increased their use of electricity over the past two years but that the supply had remained the same and significant power shortages continued. Investigators looking into corruption by the Iraqi government “remain stymied by political resistance and lack of capacity and have difficulty pursuing cases involving complex crimes and high-level officials,” the report said.
It also offered a cautious view of State Department plans for Iraq’s development, mentioning that the training of the Iraqi police force “will be challenging,” in part because it will include only 200 advisers based at three sites across the country’s 10 provinces.
Reiterating statements Mr. Bowen made earlier this year, the report said that State Department officials had thwarted his office’s attempts to audit the program. A State Department spokesman in Washington declined comment; department officials have contended that Mr. Bowen’s office does not have jurisdiction over their operations after Oct. 1.
Some Iraqi officials in Baghdad objected to the report’s assessment of their country’s security situation. “The report is exaggerated,” said Hussain al-Asadi, a member of Parliament from Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s State of Law bloc. “There are failures and shortcomings in the government and the security forces, but it is not as bad as the report says it is.”
He added, “Such reports have meaning inside America, but in Iraq it has no impact.”
Also on Saturday, Mr. Maliki gave a speech before Parliament about shrinking the Iraqi government. Mr. Maliki had been under pressure to reduce the budget in response to protests in February calling for a more accountable government. After the speech, Parliament voted to eliminate 14 departments, including the ministers of state for marshes, tribal affairs and Parliament affairs.