|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 23, 2007
Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Gordon Johndroe on National Intelligence Estimate
In Focus: National Security
In Focus: Iraq
The National Intelligence Estimate's updated judgments show that our strategy has improved the security environment in Iraq, but that we still face very tough challenges ahead. While the February NIE concluded that conditions in Iraq were worsening, today's key judgments clearly show that the military's counterinsurgency strategy, fully operational since mid-summer, has begun to slow the rapidly increasing violence and patterns of that violence we have been seeing in Iraq. This change is a necessary precondition to the stability and increased political reconciliation that we all seek.
The administration continues to support the efforts of Prime Minister Maliki, the presidency council, and Iraqi political leaders representing Sunni, Shia, and Kurds as they meet in Baghdad now to reach agreement on how they will work together for a more stable and secure Iraq.
The judgments in the NIE confirm that Iraq's security forces are improving their performance and that bottom-up political engagement and security initiatives have made a difference and offer the best prospect for improved security over the next six to 12 months. The NIE does conclude that the Iraqi security forces have not improved enough to conduct major operations independent of the coalition on a sustained basis in multiple locations, and that the ISF remain reliant on the coalition for important aspects of logistics and combat support.
This is all accurate and not unexpected, given where ISF is in its development. This suggests, of course, that there's more work to be done, but that this effort is headed in the right direction.
The intelligence community also concluded that al Qaeda in Iraq remains resilient. The NIE states that, "coalition forces, working with Iraqi forces, tribal elements and some Sunni insurgents have reduced al Qaeda in Iraq's capabilities, restricted its freedom of movement, and denied its grassroots support in some areas. However, AQI retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks." We have changed al Qaeda's trajectory in a short period of time, and we must now sustain the momentum we have already achieved against them.
Today's key judgments also confirm that Iran and Syria are still supporting and arming militant groups inside Iraq. The NIE states, and I quote, "Iran has been intensifying aspects of its lethal support for select groups of Iraqi Shia militants, particular the JAM." Most troublesome, the use of EFPs supplied by Iran has risen dramatically, and it is taking an increasing toll on our troops. While Syria has taken some action, it has done so because of the threat to its own stability, and has begun to support non-al Qaeda in Iraq groups to increase its influence inside Iraq.
One element of the administration's strategy is to support Iraqi efforts to convince its neighbors to be more helpful, and also to mobilize the international community to better support security in Iraq and the region.
The full National Intelligence Estimate will inform the recommendations to be made by President Bush, as well as the recommendations to be made by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker when they return to Washington in September to testify before Congress and make the report to the American people. And we look forward to hearing from them.
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