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Rep. Waters and Members of Congress Ask President to Clarify Situation in Iraq

July 30, 2009
Press Release

On Tuesday, August 1st, US Representative Maxine Waters (CA-35) and 18 Members of Congress sent a letter to President Bush asking him to clarify whether or not a civil war exists in Iraq and the number of Iraqis successfully trained and equipped for their security forces.

The text of the letter is as follows:

August 1, 2006

The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

     We are concerned about the deteriorating situation in Iraq.  For more than three years, violence in Iraq has grown with each passing day.  We ask therefore, that you clarify for us, and the American public, whether or not a civil war exists in Iraq and the number of Iraqis successfully trained and equipped for their security forces. 

     To many people observing the daily violence in Iraq, it appears that there is a civil war.  Each day brings about fresh reports of violence in Iraq and more violence in each successive month.  In Baghdad, during the month of June, the latest month for which statistics are available, more than 2,000 Iraqi people died violently, at least 39 car bombs exploded, 120 mortar rounds struck the city and 166 roadside bombs exploded.  The figures for violence during June would be far greater if the rest of the country was included.  More often than not, the acts of violence are targeted against one ethnic or religious group by another – the very definition of a civil war. 

     Most political scientists use the threshold of 1,000 people killed by two or more political factions fighting for political power or control of an area when determining if a civil war is on-going.  By that objective standard, Iraq has long ago entered into a civil war:  more than 2,500 US troops have died and the Iraqi Health Ministry estimates that 50,000 Iraqis have died since the war began in March 2003.  

     The violence in Iraq has led us and many others to believe there is now a civil war in Iraq.  If you feel that a civil war is not, in fact, under way in Iraq, it is important for Americans to know what factors led you to this conclusion despite the daily clashes between Sunnis and Shiites that end in bloodshed.  If, however, you believe there is a civil war, should we change our present policy in Iraq and not place our troops in between these warring factions?  
 It is vital that Iraqis successfully assume control of the security in their country so that the US can begin to bring our soldiers home.  The latest media reports indicate that 268,000 Iraqi military personnel and 116,000 Iraqi police personnel have been trained and equipped to assume responsibility for the provision of security in Iraq under the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior, respectfully.  According to the US Department of Defense, 71 military battalions (about 50,000 Iraqi soldiers) and two police battalions are "in the lead" on operations. 

     However, the daily accounts of violence in Iraq and media reports raise serious concerns about the numbers and readiness of these soldiers.  For example, according to the Brookings Institute, only about one-third of the Iraqis trained are able to play a "meaningful role in securing Iraq." 

    Furthermore, news reports indicate that US commanders believe that Defense Ministry units lack an effective command structure or commitment to the mission, limiting their ability to effectively secure Iraq.  Others say that it is common for half of an entire Iraqi Defense Ministry unit to desert or refuse to undertake a specified mission. 

     We request that you provide Congress a comprehensive review of the number of Iraqis trained, a qualitative analysis of their readiness and a projection, according to current trends, as to when the number of Iraqis trained necessary will be sufficient to improve the security situation in Iraq to a degree that will warrant the "standing down" of American military personnel.  
     Thank you for your attention to this matter.  


Rep. Maxine Waters              Rep. Jim McGovern
Rep. John Lewis                    Rep. Dennis Kucinich
Rep. Barbara Lee                   Rep. Hilda Solis
Rep. Michael Honda             Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick
Rep. Neil Abercrombie         Rep. Raul Grijalva
Rep. John Olver                    Rep. Tammy Baldwin
Rep. Maurice Hinchey          Rep. John Conyers, Jr.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee       Rep. Bill Delahunt
Rep. Barney Frank                Rep. Major Owens
Rep. Jan Schakowsky