July 12, 2007



From FOX News: Report: Iraq Progress Good on 8 of 18 Benchmarks.

U.S. military and diplomatic officials gave the Iraqi government a satisfactory rating on eight of 18 political and security benchmarks, a mixed rating on two and an unsatisfactory rating on eight benchmarks in a White House report prepared for Congress.

The interim progress report out Thursday a second one due in September says progress in Iraq has been good on key security areas such as the deployment of Iraqi forces in Baghdad, the establishment of joint security stations in Baghdad and the increased capability and independence of Iraqi military units as well as a few economic and political matters.

Unsatisfactory progress was cited in a number of political benchmarks, including the passage of a hydrocarbon law, a debaathification statute and electoral reforms. The report also points out challenges of disarming militias and ensuring full Iraqi government control of security operations in Baghdad neighborhoods.

President Bush addressed reporters on Thursday morning, saying that he would take recommendations from commanders on the ground and consult with Congress, but would not bend to those who want to cut and run. He noted that last fall, Anbar province was reported in the media to be all but lost. Today, violence is down and the situation has changed dramatically.

"Those who believe that the battle in Iraq is lost will likely point to the unsatisfactory performance on some of the political benchmarks. Those of us who believe the battle in Iraq can and must be won see the satisfactory performance on several of the security benchmarks as a cause for optimism," Bush said. ...

"The real debate over Iraq is between those who think the fight is lost or not worth the cost and those who believe the fight can be won, and that, as difficult as the fight is, the costs of defeat would be far higher. I believe we can succeed in Iraq, and I know we must," he said.

Meanwhile, Bush continues to avoid taking the only action that might actually lead to "success" in Iraq: militarily confronting Iran and Syria, neighboring nations that continue to arm, support and train militants in Iraq.

From Ynet News: Iraqi official says 200 explosive belts captured in truck crossing from Syria.

Iraqi security forces have seized 200 explosive belts in a truck that crossed into Iraq from Syria on Wednesday, Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said. The incident occurred at the Waleed border crossing point, Khalaf said. The Iraqi government and US authorities have accused Syria of allowing foreign fighters to cross into Iraq, a claim that Syria denies saying it is impossible to control the long desert border.

From Financial Times: US takes China to task over Iraq and Afghan arms.

The US has raised concerns with the Chinese government about the discovery of Chinese-made weapons on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Richard Lawless, the departing senior Pentagon official for Asia, on -Friday said that Washington had flagged the issue with -Beijing. US officials have become increasingly alarmed that Chinese armour-piercing ammunition has been used by the Taliban in Afghanistan and by insurgents in Iraq.

A senior US official recently told the Financial Times that Iran appeared to be providing the Chinese-made weapons. The official said Washington had no evidence that Beijing was complicit but stressed that the US would like China to "do a better job of policing these sales". Mr Lawless said the question of origin was less important than who was facilitating the transfer.

Posted by Forkum at July 12, 2007 04:22 PM