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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations

Jeremy M. Sharp
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

This report provides an overview of U.S.-Egyptian diplomatic relations, Egyptian politics, and U.S. foreign aid to Egypt. It also includes a political history of modern Egypt. 

U.S. policy toward Egypt is aimed at maintaining regional stability, improving bilateral relations, continuing military cooperation, and sustaining the March 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Successive administrations have long viewed Egypt as a moderating influence in the Middle East. At the same time, in recent years, there have been increasing U.S. calls for Egypt to democratize. Congressional views of U.S.-Egyptian relations vary. Many lawmakers view Egypt as a stabilizing force in the region, but some Members would like the United States to pressure Egypt to implement political reforms, improve human rights, and take a more active role in reducing Arab-Israeli tensions. 

The United States has provided Egypt with an annual average of $2 billion in economic and military foreign assistance since 1979. In FY2010, the United States is providing Egypt with $1.552 billion in total assistance. Congress appropriated FY2010 aid to Egypt in two separate bills; P.L. 111-117, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, included $1.292 billion in economic and military assistance, and P.L. 111-32, the Supplemental Appropriations Act, FY2009, contained $260 million in FY2010 military assistance. 

After several failed attempts to form a new Egypt aid mechanism, Congress passed into law a new provision in P.L. 111-117 (section 7042) that called for the possible establishment of an endowment to "further the shared interests" of the United States and Egypt. Congress specified that up to $50 million in economic aid may be set aside for an endowment, though lawmakers noted the process is in its early stages. Appropriators stated that "the conferees recognize that discussions and negotiations on such an endowment will take time, and direct the Secretary of State to consult with the Committees on these efforts. Consultation should include explanation of the specific definition of shared interests, and how such interests would be furthered through an endowment. The conferees note that such funds are subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations." 

For FY2011, the Obama Administration is seeking $1.552 billion in total assistance, the exact same amount as the previous fiscal year. The Administration's request includes $1.3 billion in military assistance and $250 million in economic aid.


Date of Report: March 25, 2010
Number of Pages: 38
Order Number: RL33003
Price: $7.95

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Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

Following two high-level policy reviews and the appointment of a new overall U.S. commander in Afghanistan in 2009, the Obama Administration says it is pursuing a fully resourced, integrated military-civilian strategy that will pave the way for a gradual transition to Afghan security leadership beginning in July 2011. The policy is intended to address what the Obama Administration considered to be a security environment that was deteriorating despite an increase in U.S. forces there during 2006-2008. Some of the deterioration was attributed to Afghan disillusionment with corruption in the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and the relative safe haven in parts of Pakistan enjoyed by Afghan militants. 

Each of the two high-level policy reviews in 2009 resulted in a decision to add combat troops, with the intent of creating the conditions to expand Afghan governance and economic development, rather than on hunting and defeating insurgents. A total of an additional 51,000 forces were authorized to deploy by the two reviews—21,000 in March 2009 and another 30,000 authorized in December 2009. Each review was accompanied by announcements of force increases by U.S. partners in Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was appointed top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan in May 2009, is a key architect and proponent of the current strategy. The strategy is predicated not only on creating secure conditions, but also empowering and improving Afghan governance and promoting economic development. These functions have involved a significant buildup of U.S. diplomats and other civilians as advisors and mentors. U.S. diplomats are also adjusting their approach to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was weakened by U.S. criticism of his failure to curb corruption and by the extensive fraud in the August 20, 2009, presidential elections. He was declared the winner but subsequently had difficulty obtaining parliamentary confirmation of a new cabinet. Ten ministerial posts remain unfilled. 

A major international meeting in London on January 28, 2010, focused on and generally backed Afghan and NATO plans to try to persuade insurgent fighters and leaders to end their fight and join the political process. There was not agreement on a more sweeping attempt to reconcile with high-level insurgent figures, although Karzai has been pursuing such an initiative and will continue that effort at a "peace jirga" in Kabul planned for the end of April. As these efforts unfold, a greater sense of U.S. official optimism started to take hold, with comments to this effect by Gen. McChrystal, Secretary of Defense Gates, and CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus. Their comments have coincided with the apparent success of "Operation Moshtarak" to push insurgents out of Marjah and establish Afghan governance there, and successful arrests of and strikes on key Afghan militants in Pakistan. A more extensive operation is planned for later in 2010 in the major province of Qandahar. 

Including FY2009, the United States has provided over $40 billion in assistance to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, of which about $21 billion has been to equip and train Afghan forces. 


Date of Report: March 25, 2010
Number of Pages: 94
Order Number: RL30588
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Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians

Susan G. Chesser
Information Research Specialist

This report collects statistics from a variety of sources on casualties sustained during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), which began on October 7, 2001, and is ongoing. OEF actions take place primarily in Afghanistan; however, OEF casualties also includes American casualties in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Yemen. 

Casualty data of U.S. military forces are compiled by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), as tallied from the agency's press releases. Also included are statistics on those wounded but not killed. Statistics may be revised as circumstances are investigated and as records are processed through the U.S. military's casualty system. More frequent updates are available at DOD's website at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/ under "Casualty Update." 

A detailed casualty summary of U.S. military forces that includes data on deaths by cause, as well as statistics on soldiers wounded in action, is available at the following DOD website: http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/castop.htm

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) does not post casualty statistics of the military forces of partner countries on the ISAF website at http://www.isaf.nato.int/. ISAF press releases state that it is ISAF policy to defer to the relevant national authorities to provide notice of any fatality. For this reason, this report uses fatality data of coalition forces as compiled by CNN.com and posted online at http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2004/oef.casualties/index.html

Casualty data of Afghan civilians are reported quarterly by the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA). Deaths of Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army personnel are reported by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction in the quarterly reports to Congress that are required as part of P.L. 110-181. 

Because the estimates of Afghan casualties contained in this report are based on varying time periods and have been created using different methodologies, readers should exercise caution when using them and should look to them as guideposts rather than as statements of fact.


Date of Report: March 25, 2010
Number of Pages: 5
Order Number: R40084
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Foreign Assistance to North Korea

Mark E. Manyin
Specialist in Asian Affairs

Mary Beth Nikitin
Analyst in Nonproliferation

Since 1995, the United States has provided North Korea with over $1.2 billion in assistance, of which about 60% has paid for food aid and about 40% for energy assistance. As of early March 2010, the United States is not providing any aid to North Korea, except for a small medical assistance program. The Obama Administration, along with the South Korean government, have said that they would be willing to provide large-scale aid if North Korea takes steps to irreversibly dismantle its nuclear program. The main vehicle for persuading Pyongyang to denuclearize is the Six-Party Talks, involving North Korea, the United States, China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia. The Talks have not met since late 2008. 

U.S. energy and food aid to North Korea fell significantly in the mid-2000s, bottoming out at zero in 2006. The Bush Administration resumed energy aid in the fall of 2007 after progress was made in the Six-Party Talks – involving North Korea, the United States, China, Japan, and Russia – over North Korea's nuclear program. The United States and other countries began providing heavy fuel oil (HFO) in return for Pyongyang freezing and disabling its plutonium-based nuclear facilities. However, no additional energy assistance has been provided through the Six-Party process since North Korea withdrew from the talks in 2009, following condemnation and sanctions by the U.N. Security Council for North Korea's April 2009 launch of a suspected long-range missile and May 2009 test of a nuclear device. 

In 2007 and 2008, the United States also provided technical assistance to North Korea to help in the nuclear disablement process. In 2008, Congress took legislative steps to legally enable the President to give expanded assistance for this purpose. However, following North Korea's actions in the spring of 2009, Congress explicitly rejected the Obama Administration's requests for funds to supplement existing resources in the event of a breakthrough with North Korea. However, Congress did approve monies for the State Department's general emergency non-proliferation fund that the Administration could use in North Korea. 

Since the mid-1990s, North Korea has suffered from chronic, massive food shortages. Food aid— largely from China, the United States, and South Korea—has been essential in filling the gap. In 2008 and 2009, the U.S. shipped about a third of a planned 500,000 metric ton food aid pledge before disagreements with the North Korean government led to the program's cessation. The drying up of food aid donations from the United States and South Korea has led the World Food Programme to drastically curtail its operation in North Korea, despite ongoing food shortages. 

Pyongyang has resisted economic reforms that would allow the equitable distribution of food and help pay for food imports. Additionally, the North Korean government restricts the ability of donors to operate in the country. Multiple sources have asserted that some of the food assistance going to North Korea is routinely diverted for resale in private markets or other uses. Compounding the problem, China, North Korea's largest source of food aid, has no known monitoring systems in place. In 2009 and 2010, in response to continued food shortages, Pyongyang asked South Korea – and the United States, according to some reports – to renew food assistance. The Obama Administration must make a number of decisions, including: whether to resume food aid; if so, whether to condition all or part of its assistance on expansive levels of access and monitoring; whether to condition food aid on progress in other areas (such as in the Six-Party Talks); and whether to pressure China to impose similar conditions on its food aid.


Date of Report: March 12, 2010
Number of Pages: 26
Order Number: R40095
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

President Obama has said his Administration shares the goals of previous administrations to contain Iran's strategic capabilities and regional influence. The Obama Administration has not changed the Bush Administration's characterization of Iran as a "profound threat to U.S. national security interests," a perception generated not only by Iran's nuclear program but also by its military assistance to armed groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Palestinian group Hamas, and to Lebanese Hezbollah. However, the Obama Administration has formulated approaches to achieve those goals that differ from those of its predecessor by expanding direct diplomatic engagement with Iran's government and by downplaying discussion of potential U.S. military action against Iranian nuclear facilities. 

With the nuclear issue unresolved, the domestic unrest in Iran that has occurred since alleged wide-scale fraud was committed in Iran's June 12, 2009, presidential election has presented the Administration with a potential choice of continuing the engagement or backing the opposition "Green movement." In December 2009, Administration statements shifted toward greater public support of the Green movement, but Administration officials appear to believe that the opposition's prospects are enhanced by a low U.S. public profile on the unrest. Congressional resolutions and legislation since mid-2009 show growing congressional support for steps to enhance the opposition's prospects. Yet, some experts saw the regime's successful effort to prevent the holding of a large Green movement protest on "revolution day," February 11, 2010, as an indication that the Administration should return to its engagement efforts. 

Even at the height of the Green movement protests, the Obama Administration did not forego diplomatic options to blunt Iran's nuclear progress and says it remains open to a nuclear deal if Iran fully accepts a framework Iran tentatively agreed to in multilateral talks on October 1, 2009. However, Iran did not accept the technical details of this by the notional deadline of the end of 2009, nor has it adequately responded to international concerns about possible work on a nuclear weapons program. These concerns have sparked renewed multilateral discussions of more U.N. sanctions. New sanctions under negotiation would target members and companies of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is not only a pillar of Iran's nuclear program but is also the main element used by the regime to crack down against the protesters. Still, China, a major investor in Iran and consumer of its oil, is said to be resisting new steps to pressure Iran economically and politically. 

Additional U.N. Security Council sanctions would build on those put in place since 2006. These sanctions generally are targeted against WMD-related trade with Iran, but also ban Iran from transferring arms outside Iran and restrict dealings with some Iranian banks. Separate U.S. efforts to persuade European governments to curb trade with, investment in, and credits for Iran, and to convince foreign banks not to do business with Iran, are intended to compound the U.N. pressure. Each chamber in the 111th Congress has passed separate legislation to try to curb sales to Iran of gasoline, which many Members believe could help pressure Iran into a nuclear settlement or undermine the regime's popularity even further. Others believe such steps could help the regime rebuild its support by painting the international community as punitive against the Iranian people. 


 

For further information, see CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions, by Kenneth Katzman;

CRS Report R40849, Iran: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy, coordinated by Casey L. Addis; and 

CRS Report RL34544, Iran's Nuclear Program: Status
, by Paul K. Kerr.


 


 

Date of Report: March 11, 2010
Number of Pages: 64
Order Number: RL32048
Price: $19.95

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Iran Sanctions

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs


Iran is subject to a wide range of U.S. sanctions, restricting trade with, investment, and U.S. foreign aid to Iran, and requiring the United States to vote against international lending to Iran. Several laws and executive orders authorize the imposition of U.S. penalties against foreign companies that do business with Iran, as part of an effort to persuade foreign firms to choose between the Iranian market and the much larger U.S. market. Most notable among these sanctions is a ban, imposed in 1995, on U.S. trade with and investment in Iran. That ban has been modified slightly to allow for some bilateral trade, mainly in luxury and humanitarian-related goods. Foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms remain generally exempt from the trade ban since they are under the laws of the countries where they are incorporated. Since 1995, several U.S. laws and regulations that seek to pressure Iran's economy, curb Iran's support for militant groups, and curtail supplies to Iran of advanced technology have been enacted. Since 2006, the United Nations Security Council has imposed some sanctions primarily attempting to curtail supply to Iran of weapons-related technology but also sanctioning several Iranian banks. 

This paper is not a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of U.S. and international sanctions on Iran, in part because of the difficulty in determining how significant a factor sanctions are in Iran's economic and political difficulties, or in Iran's domestic or foreign policy decisions. U.S. officials have identified Iran's energy sector as a key Iranian economic vulnerability because Iran's government revenues are approximately 80% dependent on oil revenues and in need of substantial foreign investment. A U.S. effort to curb international energy investment in Iran began in 1996 with the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), but no firms have been sanctioned under it. Still, ISA, when coupled with broader factors, may have influenced some international firms' decisions whether to invest in Iran. Iran has been unable to expand oil production beyond 4.1 million barrels per day, although it does now have a gas export sector that it did not have before Iran opened its fields to foreign investment in 1996. 

In an attempt to strengthen U.S. leverage with its allies to back such international sanctions, several major bills in the 111th Congress would add U.S. sanctions on Iran. Most notable is H.R. 2194 (which passed the House on December 15, 2009), which would add as ISA violations selling refined gasoline to Iran; providing shipping insurance or other services to deliver gasoline to Iran; or supplying equipment to or performing the construction of oil refineries in Iran. A Senate version was passed on January 28, 2010 (S. 2799), which contains these sanctions as well as a broad range of other measures against Iran. It was passed as an amendment to H.R. 2194 on March 11, 2010, setting up conference action on the differing versions. 

While the oil and gas sector has been a focus of U.S. sanctions since the 1990s, the Obama Administration appears to be shifting - in U.S. regulations and in discussions with U.S. allies - to targeting Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for sanctions. This shift is intended to weaken the Guard as a proliferation-supporting organization, as well as to expose its role in trying to crush the democratic opposition in Iran. A growing trend in Congress, reflected in several bills that are have passed or are in various stages of consideration, would sanction Iranian officials who are human rights abusers, facilitate the democracy movement's access to information, and express outright U.S. support for the overthrow of the regime.


 

For more on Iran, see CRS Report RL32048, Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses, by Kenneth Katzman.  


 


Date of Report: March 12, 2010
Number of Pages: 33
Order Number: RS20871
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Iraq: Oil and Gas Sector, Revenue Sharing, and U.S. Policy

Christopher M. Blanchard
Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs

Development in Iraq's oil and natural gas sector is proceeding, amid ongoing debates. Iraqis differ strongly on a number of key issues, including the proper role and powers of federal and regional authorities in regulating oil and gas development; the terms and extent of potential foreign participation in the oil and gas sectors; and proposed formulas and mechanisms for equitably sharing oil and gas revenue. Concurrent, related discussions about the administrative status of the city of Kirkuk and proposed amendments to articles of Iraq's constitution that outline federal and regional oil and gas rights also are highly contentious. 

Both the Bush Administration and the 110th Congress considered the passage of oil and gas sector framework and revenue-sharing legislation as important benchmarks that would indicate the Iraqi government's commitment to promoting political reconciliation and providing a solid foundation for long-term economic development in Iraq. Obama Administration officials and some Members of the 111th Congress have expressed similar views. In the absence of new comprehensive legislation to manage the energy sector and distribute energy export revenues, interim revenuesharing mechanisms have been implemented, while both the national government and the Kurdistan Regional Government have signed oil and natural gas contracts with foreign firms. 

The central importance of oil and gas revenue for the Iraqi economy is widely recognized by Iraqis, and most groups accept the need to create new legal and policy guidelines for the development of the country's oil and natural gas resources. However, Iraq's current Council of Representatives (parliament) did not take action to consider proposed energy sector reform legislation because of broader political disputes. Observers and U.S. officials remain focused on the outcome of the March 2010 Iraqi national election as an indicator of future trends. 

In January 2010, the Council of Representatives adopted Iraq's 2010 budget, which includes a deficit of more than $19 billion because of increased spending and stagnant oil production and export levels in Iraq. The budget also includes a controversial revenue distribution mechanism that will reward specific energy resource producing governorates. Iraq has secured a $3.6 billion stand-by arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a total of $500 million in loans from the World Bank to cover a portion of the expected 2010 deficit, as U.S. officials continue to warn that reduced revenues and spending may jeopardize Iraqi investments in infrastructure and security forces needed to fully stabilize the country. 

The military strategy employed by U.S. forces in Iraq has sought to create a secure environment in which Iraqis can resolve core political differences as a means of ensuring national stability and security. However, it remains to be seen whether proposed oil and gas legislation and ongoing interim efforts to develop Iraq's energy resources will promote reconciliation or contribute to deeper political tension. U.S. policymakers and Members of Congress thus face difficult choices with regard to engaging Iraqis on various policy proposals, related constitutional reforms, and oil and natural gas development contracts, while encouraging Iraqi counterparts to ensure that the content of proposed laws, amendments, and contracts reflects acceptable political compromises. This report reviews policy proposals and interim contracts, analyzes the positions of various Iraqi political actors, and discusses potential implications for U.S. foreign policy goals in Iraq.


See also CRS Report RL31339, Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security by Kenneth Katzman.


 


Date of Report: March 3, 2010
Number of Pages: 24
Order Number: RL34064
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Defense Logistical Support Contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Issues for Congress

Valerie Bailey Grasso
Specialist in Defense Acquisition


This report examines logistical support contracts for troop support services in Iraq and Afghanistan administered through the U.S. Army's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP). LOGCAP is an initiative designed to manage the use of civilian contractors that perform services during times of war and other military mobilizations. On April 18, 2008, DOD announced the Army's LOGCAP IV contract awards to three companies—DynCorp International LLC, Fort Worth, TX; Fluor Intercontinental, Inc, Greenville, SC; and KBR, Houston, TX, through a full and open competition. The LOGCAP IV contract calls for each company to compete for task orders. Each company may be awarded up to $5 billion annually for troop support services with a maximum annual value of $15 billion. As of March 2010, each company has been awarded at least one task order under LOGCAP IV. Over the life of LOGCAP IV, the maximum contract value is $150 billion. The U.S. Army Sustainment Command awarded the first performance task order on September 25, 2008 to Fluor Intercontinental, Inc., for logistical support services in Afghanistan. 

LOGCAP, an Army program designed to manage civilian contractors, is now in transition. The current LOGCAP III contractor supports the drawdown in Iraq by providing logistical services, theater transportation, augmentation of maintenance services, and other combat support services. According to Army contracting officials, all LOGCAP requirements in Kuwait have successfully transitioned from LOGCAP III to LOGCAP IV contracts. The transition of requirements is continuing from LOGCAP III to LOGCAP IV contracts, and will be used for combat support services in Afghanistan. 

Congress is concerned about the Federal oversight and management of DOD contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly under programs like LOGCAP. Recent assessments from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), DOD Office of the Inspector General (DOD-IG), the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), and the Defense Contract Audit Agency reveal a lack of accountability for large sums of money spent for Iraq contracts. According to the congressional testimony of Charles Williams, Director of the Defense Contract Management Agency, there are more than 600 oversight positions still vacant in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress is also concerned about the size of contractor insurance premiums through the Defense Base Act (DBA); such premiums comprise significant costs under LOGCAP. The DBA requires that many Federal government contractors and subcontractors provide workers' compensation insurance for their employees who work outside of the United States. The U.S. Army's LOGCAP contract covers costs for DBA insurance and includes significant overheard and other costs beyond the costs of the actual insurance claims. 
.


Date of Report: March 4, 2010
Number of Pages: 39
Order Number: RL33834
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Syria: Background and U.S. Relations

Jeremy M. Sharp
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs


Despite its weak military and lackluster economy, Syria remains relevant in Middle Eastern geopolitics. Syria plays a key role in the Middle East peace process, acting at times as a "spoiler" by sponsoring Palestinian militants and facilitating the rearmament of Hezbollah. At other times, it has participated in substantive negotiations with Israel. Syria's longstanding relationship with the Iranian clerical regime is of great concern to U.S. strategists. As Syria grew more estranged from the United States throughout this decade, Syrian-Iranian relations improved, and some analysts have called on U.S. policymakers to woo Syrian leaders away from Iran. Others believe that the Administration should go even further in pressuring the Syrian government and should consider implementing even harsher economic sanctions against it. 

A variety of U.S. legislative provisions and executive directives prohibit direct aid to Syria and restrict bilateral trade relations between the two countries, largely because of Syria's designation by the U.S. State Department as a sponsor of international terrorism. On December 12, 2003, President Bush signed the Syria Accountability Act, H.R. 1828, as P.L. 108-175, which imposed additional economic sanctions against Syria. In recent years, the Administration has designated several Syrian entities as weapons proliferators and sanctioned several Russian companies for alleged WMD or advanced weapons sales to Syria. Annual foreign operations appropriations legislation also has contained provisions designating several million dollars annually for programs to support democracy in Syria. 

In recent months, the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress have increased calls for greater U.S. engagement with Syria. Several Congressional delegations have visited Syria, and Administration officials recently held talks with their Syrian counterparts. Whether or not this dialogue will lead to substantial changes in the U.S.-Syrian bilateral relationship remains to be seen. 

This report analyzes an array of bilateral issues that continue to affect relations between the United States and Syria.



Date of Report: March 3, 2010
Number of Pages: 20
Order Number: RL33487
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Islam: Sunnis and Shiites

Christopher M. Blanchard
Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs


The majority of the world's Muslim population follows the Sunni branch of Islam, and approximately 10-15% of all Muslims follow the Shiite (Shi'ite, Shi'a, Shia) branch. Shiite populations constitute a majority in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, and Azerbaijan. There are also significant Shiite populations in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen. Sunnis and Shiites share most basic religious tenets. However, their differences sometimes have been the basis for religious intolerance, political infighting, and sectarian violence. 

This report includes a historical background of the Sunni-Shiite split and discusses the differences in religious beliefs and practices between and within each Islamic sect as well as their similarities. The report also relates Sunni and Shiite religious beliefs to discussions of terrorism and sectarian violence that may be of interest during the 111th Congress.

Also see CRS Report RS21695,
The Islamic Traditions of Wahhabism and Salafiyya, by Christopher M. Blanchard. 


 


Date of Report: March 3, 2010
Number of Pages: 9
Order Number: RS21745
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Iraq: Politics, Elections, and Benchmarks

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

Iraq's political system, the result of a U.S.-supported election process, has been increasingly characterized by peaceful competition, as well as by attempts to form cross-sectarian alliances. However, ethnic and factional infighting continue, as evidenced by the successful efforts by Shiite Arab political leaders to disqualify some prominent Sunni Arab candidates in the March 7, 2010, national elections. Election-related violence has occurred, although not at levels of earlier years. Some believe that, in light of the disqualifications, sectarian violence will flare anew, after the elections, and may increase further as the U.S. military presence recedes in 2010 and 2011. 

Adding to the tensions is the perception among many Iraqi politicians that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, strengthened politically by the January 31, 2009, provincial elections, is increasingly authoritarian. This is in part to demonstrate that he is committed to law and order, but perhaps also to win Shiite Muslim votes by portraying himself as intent on preventing any possible return of the Baath Party to power in Iraq. He has tried, with only mixed enthusiasm and success, to form cross-sectarian alliances with a range of Sunni and Kurdish factions. However, the slates that oppose him in the election are somewhat more broad ethnically and politically than is his, and Maliki is not assured of remaining Prime Minister when a new government is formed. 

The infighting among the major communities delayed the National Assembly's passage of the election law needed to hold the elections. An initial version of the election law was passed by the Council of Representatives (COR, parliament) on November 8, 2009, but was vetoed by one of Iraq's deputy presidents, Tariq al Hashimi, because of what he considered inadequate guarantees of representation for Sunni Iraqis. After continued disputes, threatened election boycotts, and adoption of another draft law that attracted another veto threat, all major factions adopted a draft—similar to the first version—on December 6, 2009. The next Assembly will have 325 seats, compared to 275 seats in the current Assembly. The election date of March 7, 2010, is well beyond the January 31, 2010, date that was originally targeted. This same difficulty of achieving consensus has delayed key outstanding legislation considered crucial to political comity going forward, such as national hydrocarbon laws, and may account for an apparent increase in violence in Iraq as campaigning begins (February 12). 

To date, the election infighting and violence—evidenced most notably by major bombings in Baghdad—have not jeopardized the Obama Administration's announced reduction of the U.S. troop presence to about 50,000 U.S. forces by August 2010. Under the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement that took effect January 1, 2009, and which President Obama has said would be followed, all U.S. forces are to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Senior U.S. military leaders continue to say that the U.S. draw-down plans are "on track." However, U.S. plans could be upset if the political infighting causes a major increase in violence or if the post-election political process of choosing the executive branch is held up for several months.

See CRS Report RL31339, Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security, by Kenneth Katzman. 


 

Date of Report: March 3, 2010
Number of Pages: 21
Order Number: RS21968
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Iran Sanctions


Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

Iran is subject to a wide range of U.S. sanctions, restricting trade with, investment, and U.S. foreign aid to Iran, and requiring the United States to vote against international lending to Iran. Several laws and executive orders authorize the imposition of U.S. penalties against foreign companies that do business with Iran, as part of an effort to persuade foreign firms to choose between the Iranian market and the much larger U.S. market. Most notable among these sanctions is a ban, imposed in 1995, on U.S. trade with and investment in Iran. That ban has been modified slightly to allow for some bilateral trade, mainly in luxury and humanitarian-related goods. Foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms remain generally exempt from the trade ban since they are under the laws of the countries where they are incorporated. Since 1995, several U.S. laws and regulations that seek to pressure Iran's economy, curb Iran's support for militant groups, and curtail supplies to Iran of advanced technology have been enacted. Since 2006, the United Nations Security Council has imposed some sanctions primarily attempting to curtail supply to Iran of weapons-related technology but also sanctioning some Iranian banks.

This paper is not a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of U.S. and international sanctions on Iran, in part because of the difficulty in determining how significant a factor sanctions are in Iran's economic and political difficulties, or in Iran's domestic or foreign policy decisions. U.S. officials have identified Iran's energy sector as a key Iranian economic vulnerability because Iran's government revenues are approximately 80% dependent on oil revenues and in need of substantial foreign investment. A U.S. effort to curb international energy investment in Iran began in 1996 with the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), but no firms have been sanctioned under it. Still, ISA, when coupled with broader factors, may have influenced some international firms' decisions whether to invest in Iran. Iran has been unable to expand oil production beyond 4.1 million barrels per day, although it does now have a gas export sector that it did not have before Iran opened its fields to foreign investment in 1996.

In an attempt to strengthen U.S. leverage with its allies to back such international sanctions, several major bills in the 111th Congress would add U.S. sanctions on Iran. For example, H.R. 2194 (which passed the House on December 15, 2009), H.R. 1985, H.R. 1208, and S. 908 would include as ISA violations selling refined gasoline to Iran; providing shipping insurance or other services to deliver gasoline to Iran; or supplying equipment to or performing the construction of oil refineries in Iran. Several of these bills would also expand the menu of available sanctions against violators. A bill passed by the Senate on January 28, 2010 (S. 2799), contains these sanctions as well as a broad range of other measures against Iran. Observers in Congress say that there will be an attempt to reconcile H.R. 2194 and S. 2799.

While the oil and gas sector has been a focus of U.S. sanctions since the 1990s, the Obama Administration appears to be shifting to targeting Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for sanctions. This shift is intended to weaken the Guard as a proliferation-supporting organization, as well as to expose its role in trying to crush the democratic opposition in Iran. This emphasis on the Guard is carrying over into international debate on further sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program. Supporting the opposition is a growing trend in Congress; numerous bills that would support the opposition, sanction Iranian human rights abusers, and facilitate the democracy movement's access to information are in various stages of consideration.  


 

For more on Iran, see CRS Report RL32048, Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses, by Kenneth Katzman. 


 


Date of Report: March 4, 2010
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Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

During 2009, the Obama Administration addressed a deteriorating security environment in Afghanistan. Despite an increase in U.S. forces there during 2006-2008, insurgents were expanding their area and intensity of operations, resulting in higher levels of overall violence. There was substantial Afghan and international disillusionment with corruption in the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and militants enjoyed a safe haven in parts of Pakistan. Building on assessments completed in the latter days of the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration conducted two "strategy reviews," the results of which were announced on March 27, 2009, and on December 1, 2009, respectively. 

Each review included a decision to add combat troops, with the intent of creating the conditions to expand Afghan governance and economic development, rather than on hunting and defeating insurgents in successive operations. The new strategy has been propounded by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was appointed top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan in May 2009. In his August 30, 2009, initial assessment of the situation, Gen. McChrystal recommended a fully resourced, comprehensive counter-insurgency strategy that could require about 40,000 additional forces (beyond 21,000 additional U.S. forces authorized in February 2009). On December 1, 2009, following the second high level policy review, President Obama announced the following: 

• The provision of 30,000 additional U.S. forces. This would bring U.S. force levels to about 100,000 once all these forces deploy. Allies pledged another 9,000 in concert with the announcement, which would bring their levels to about 46,000. 

• A conditions-based plan to begin to draw down U.S. forces beginning in July 2011. The intention of setting this notional time frame was, according to senior U.S. officials, to focus Afghanistan's government on improving its effectiveness and its ability to take the security lead. 

The new policy was announced prior to a major international meeting in London on January 28, 2010, which focused on and generally backed Afghan and NATO plans to try to persuade insurgent fighters and leaders to end their fight and join the political process. Afghan President Hamid Karzai received this backing despite going into the conference politically weakened by the extensive fraud in the August 20, 2009, presidential elections and his subsequent difficulty obtaining parliamentary confirmation of a new cabinet. He came into the conference with ten ministerial posts still unfilled. Immediately after the conference, a greater sense of optimism started to take hold with comments to that effect by Gen. McChrystal. His comments, and similar assessments by other U.S. officials as well as outside experts, coincided with the launch of "Operation Moshtarak" to push insurgents out of Marjah and establish Afghan governance there, and successful arrests of and strikes on key Afghan militants in Pakistan. 

Including FY2009, the United States has provided over $40 billion in assistance to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, of which about $21 billion has been to equip and train Afghan forces. A wide range of other CRS reports on many aspects of the Afghanistan issue are available on the CRS website at: http://www.crs.gov/Pages/subissue.aspx?cliid=2675&parentid=29.


Date of Report: March 1, 2010
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians

Susan G. Chesser
Information Research Specialist

This report collects statistics from a variety of sources on casualties sustained during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), which began on October 7, 2001, and is ongoing. OEF actions take place primarily in Afghanistan; however, OEF casualties also includes American casualties in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Yemen. 

Casualty data of U.S. military forces are compiled by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), as tallied from the agency's press releases. Also included are statistics on those wounded but not killed. Statistics may be revised as circumstances are investigated and as records are processed through the U.S. military's casualty system. More frequent updates are available at DOD's website at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/ under "Casualty Update." 

A detailed casualty summary of U.S. military forces that includes data on deaths by cause, as well as statistics on soldiers wounded in action, is available at the following DOD website: http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/castop.htm

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) does not post casualty statistics of the military forces of partner countries on the ISAF website at http://www.isaf.nato.int/. ISAF press releases state that it is ISAF policy to defer to the relevant national authorities to provide notice of any fatality. For this reason, this report uses fatality data of coalition forces as compiled by CNN.com and posted online at http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2004/oef.casualties/index.html

Casualty data of Afghan civilians are reported quarterly by the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA). Deaths of Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army personnel are reported by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction in the quarterly reports to Congress that are required as part of P.L. 110-181. 

Because the estimates of Afghan casualties contained in this report are based on varying time periods and have been created using different methodologies, readers should exercise caution when using them and should look to them as guideposts rather than as statements of fact.


Date of Report: March 8, 2010
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Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues

Paul K. Kerr
Analyst in Nonproliferation

Mary Beth Nikitin
Analyst in Nonproliferation

Pakistan's nuclear arsenal consists of approximately 60 nuclear warheads, although it could be larger. Islamabad is producing fissile material, adding to related production facilities, and deploying additional delivery vehicles. These steps will enable Pakistan to undertake both quantitative and qualitative improvements to its nuclear arsenal. Whether and to what extent Pakistan's current expansion of its nuclear weapons-related facilities is a response to the 2008 U.S.-India nuclear cooperation agreement is unclear. Islamabad does not have a public, detailed nuclear doctrine, but its "minimum credible deterrent" is widely regarded as primarily a deterrent to Indian military action. 

Pakistan has in recent years taken a number of steps to increase international confidence in the security of its nuclear arsenal. In addition to dramatically overhauling nuclear command and control structures since September 11, 2001, Islamabad has implemented new personnel security programs. Moreover, Pakistani and some U.S. officials argue that, since the 2004 revelations about a procurement network run by former Pakistani nuclear official A.Q. Khan, Islamabad has taken a number of steps to improve its nuclear security and to prevent further proliferation of nuclear-related technologies and materials. A number of important initiatives, such as strengthened export control laws, improved personnel security, and international nuclear security cooperation programs have improved Pakistan's security situation in recent years. 

Instability in Pakistan has called the extent and durability of these reforms into question. Some observers fear radical takeover of a government that possesses a nuclear bomb, or proliferation by radical sympathizers within Pakistan's nuclear complex in case of a breakdown of controls. While U.S. and Pakistani officials continue to express confidence in controls over Pakistan's nuclear weapons, continued instability in the country could impact these safeguards. For a broader discussion, see CRS Report RL33498,


 

Pakistan-U.S. Relations

by K. Alan Kronstadt.


 


Date of Report: February 23, 2010
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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

U.S. Nuclear Cooperation with India: Issues for Congress

Paul K. Kerr
Analyst in Nonproliferation

India, which has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and does not have International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on all nuclear material in peaceful nuclear activities, exploded a "peaceful" nuclear device in 1974, convincing the world of the need for greater restrictions on nuclear trade. The United States created the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as a direct response to India's test, halted nuclear exports to India a few years later, and worked to convince other states to do the same. India tested nuclear weapons again in 1998. However, President Bush announced July 18, 2005, he would "work to achieve full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India" and would "also seek agreement from Congress to adjust U.S. laws and policies," in the context of a broader partnership with India. 

U.S. nuclear cooperation is governed by the Atomic Energy Act (AEA). P.L. 109-401, which President Bush signed into law on December 18, 2006, provides waivers of several provisions of the AEA (Sections 123 a. (2), 128, and 129). It requires that several steps occur before nuclear cooperation can proceed. On September 10, 2008, President Bush submitted to Congress a written determination that these requirements had been met. That same day, the President submitted the text of the proposed agreement, which had not yet been signed. The President also submitted a written determination (also required by the AEA) "that the performance of the proposed agreement will promote and will not constitute an unreasonable risk to, the common defense and security." In addition, President Bush submitted several documents, including classified and unclassified versions of a Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement, which is required by section 123 of the AEA. The Department of State also submitted a report required by P.L. 109- 401 on various aspects of the agreement. 

On September 27, 2008, the House passed H.R. 7081, which approved the agreement. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved identical legislation, S. 3548, September 23. The Senate passed H.R. 7081 October 1. President Bush signed P.L. 110-369 into law October 8. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and India's External Affairs Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee signed the agreement October 10, and it entered into force December 6, 2008. 

However, several steps remain before U.S. companies can start nuclear trade with India. For example, P.L. 110-369 requires that, before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can issue licenses for U.S. nuclear exports to India, the President must determine and certify to Congress that New Delhi's IAEA safeguards agreement has entered into force and that India's declaration of its nuclear facilities to the agency "is not materially inconsistent with the facilities and schedule" described in a separation plan that New Delhi provided to Washington. India's safeguards agreement entered into force in May 2009, and New Delhi has filed the declaration with the IAEA. The President submitted the required certifications to Congress February 3. 

Furthermore, U.S. firms will likely be very reluctant to engage in nuclear trade with India if the government does not become party to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, which has not yet entered into force. India also is reportedly insisting that New Delhi and Washington conclude an agreement on a reprocessing facility in India before New Delhi signs contracts with U.S. nuclear firms. 
.


Date of Report: February 24, 2010
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Monday, March 8, 2010

Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces

Hannah Fischer
Information Research Specialist

This report presents U.S. military casualties as well as governmental and nongovernmental estimates of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces casualties. 

For several years, there were few estimates from any national or international government source regarding Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces casualties. Now, however, several Iraqi ministries have released monthly or total casualty statistics. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) releases the monthly trend of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces deaths. In addition, the United Nations Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has charted the trend of civilian casualties from August 2007 to April 2009, and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reported on the number of deaths by suicide bombers in 2008. 

Nongovernmental sources also have released various estimates of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces casualties. This report includes estimates from the Associated Press, the Brookings Institution, Iraq Body Count, the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, Iraq Family Health Survey, the most recent study published in the Lancet, and the British survey firm, Opinion Research Business. 

Because the estimates of Iraqi casualties contained in this report are based on varying time periods and have been created using differing methodologies, readers should exercise caution when using them and should look to them as guideposts rather than as statements of fact.


Date of Report: February 25, 2010
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Friday, March 5, 2010

War in Afghanistan: Strategy, Military Operations, and Issues for Congress

Steve Bowman
Specialist in National Security

Catherine Dale
Specialist in International Security

With a deteriorating security situation and no comprehensive political outcome yet in sight, most observers view the war in Afghanistan as open-ended. By early 2009, a growing number of Members of Congress, Administration officials, and outside experts had concluded that the effort—often called "America's other war"—required greater national attention. For the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA), the war is both a struggle for survival and an effort to establish sustainable security and stability. For the United States, the war in Afghanistan concerns the security of Afghanistan and the region, including denying safe haven to terrorists and helping ensure a stable regional security balance. For regional states, including India and Russia as well as Afghanistan's neighbors Pakistan and Iran, the war may have a powerful impact on the future balance of power and influence in the region. For individual members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the war may be about defeating terrorist networks, ensuring regional stability, proving themselves as contributing NATO members, and/or demonstrating NATO's relevance in the 21st century. 

Since 2001, the character of the war in Afghanistan has evolved from a violent struggle against al Qaeda and its Taliban supporters to a multi-faceted counterinsurgency (COIN) effort. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in order to end the ability of the Taliban regime to provide safe haven to al Qaeda and to put a stop to al Qaeda's use of the territory of Afghanistan as a base of operations for terrorist activities. In that first phase, U.S. and coalition forces, working with Afghan opposition forces, quickly removed the Taliban regime. 

After the fall of the Taliban, the character of the war shifted to a multifaceted COIN effort aimed at smothering the diffuse insurgency by shoring up GIRoA efforts to provide security, governance, and economic development. The three areas are generally viewed as interdependent and mutually-reinforcing—security is a prerequisite for some governance and development efforts, and longer-term, sustainable security requires both functional governance and economic opportunity. As one pillar of the COIN campaign in Afghanistan, the Afghan and international military effort aims broadly at defeating the remnants of the Taliban and other insurgents, securing the population, and helping extend the reach of the Afghan government. The international military effort includes both the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), to which the United States contributes troops, and the separate U.S.-led OEF mission. 

In his December 3, 2009, speech President Obama identified several objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan: (1) disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda; (2) deny al Qaeda a safe haven; (3) reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government; and (4) strengthen the capacity of the Afghan security forces and government to better protect and serve population centers. To accomplish this, President Obama ordered the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops to the region, which will bring the U.S. total to almost 100,000 troops. This deployment will be staged over several months, with the full additional complement being incountry by the end of the summer 2010. Noting that Afghan operations continue to be an international effort, President Obama expressed confidence that some of 42 coalition allies will also be increasing their contributions. NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen echoed this confidence, stating that he expects NATO allies to contribute at least an additional 5,000 troops in 2010.


Date of Report: February 25, 2010
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

President Obama has said his Administration shares the goals of previous Administrations to contain Iran's strategic capabilities and regional influence. The Obama Administration has not changed the Bush Administration's characterization of Iran as a "profound threat to U.S. national security interests," a perception generated not only by Iran's nuclear program but also by its military assistance to armed groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Palestinian group Hamas, and to Lebanese Hezbollah. However, the Obama Administration has formulated approaches to achieve those goals that differ from those of its predecessor by expanding direct diplomatic engagement with Iran's government and by downplaying discussion of potential U.S. military action against Iranian nuclear facilities. With the nuclear issue unresolved, the domestic unrest in Iran that has burgeoned since alleged wide scale fraud was committed in Iran's June 12, 2009, presidential election has presented the Administration with a potential choice of continuing the engagement or backing the opposition "Green movement." In December 2009, Administration statements shifted toward greater public support of the Green movement, but Administration officials appear to believe that the opposition's prospects are enhanced by a low U.S. public profile on the unrest. Congressional resolutions and legislation since mid-2009 show growing congressional attention to the plight of Iran's opposition and support for steps to enhance the opposition's prospects. Iran's neighbors continue to engage the regime in normal trade and diplomatic exchange, although it is widely believed that many regional leaders, particularly the Persian Gulf states, are hoping for a regime collapse. 

At the same time, the Administration does not want to forego its diplomatic options to blunt Iran's nuclear progress and says it remains open to a nuclear deal if Iran fully accepts a framework Iran tentatively agreed to in multilateral talks on October 1, 2009. The framework provided for Russia and France to reprocess some of Iran's low-enriched uranium for medical use. However, Iran did not accept the technical details of this by the notional deadline of the end of 2009, sparking renewed multilateral discussions of more U.N. sanctions. Any new sanctions are expected to target members and companies of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is not only a pillar of Iran's nuclear program but is also the main element used by the regime to crack down against the protesters. Some believe that sanctions that target the regime's security forces, reduce its ability to monitor the Internet, and undermine the international legitimacy of regime leaders might help the domestic opposition materially change or even topple the regime. 

Additional U.N. Security Council sanctions would build on those put in place since 2006. These sanctions generally are targeted against WMD-related trade with Iran, but also ban Iran from transferring arms outside Iran and restrict dealings with some Iranian banks. Separate U.S. efforts to persuade European governments to curb trade with, investment in, and credits for Iran, and to convince foreign banks not to do business with Iran, are intended to compound the U.N. pressure. Each chamber in the 111th Congress has passed separate legislation to try to curb sales to Iran of gasoline, which many Members believe could help pressure Iran into a nuclear settlement or undermine the regime's popularity even further. Others believe such steps could help the regime rebuild its support by painting the international community as punitive against the Iranian people. For further information, see CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions, by Kenneth Katzman; CRS Report R40849, Iran: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy, coordinated by Casey L. Addis; and CRS Report RL34544,
Iran's Nuclear Program: Status, by Paul K. Kerr.


Date of Report: February 16, 2010
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Iraq: Politics, Elections, and Benchmarks

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

Iraq's political system, the result of a U.S.-supported election process, has been increasingly characterized by peaceful competition rather than violence, as well as by cross-sectarian alliances. However, ethnic and factional infighting continue, as evidenced by the successful efforts by Shiite Arab political leaders to disqualify some prominent Sunni Arab candidates in the March 7, 2010, national elections. Some believe that, in light of the disqualifications, sectarian violence will flare anew as the U.S. military presence recedes. Adding to the tensions is the perception among many Iraqi politicians that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, strengthened politically by the January 31, 2009, provincial elections, is increasingly authoritarian, in part to increase the chances that he retains power after the elections. He has formed cross-sectarian alliances with a range of Sunni and Kurdish factions, to counter new coalitions by a wide range of erstwhile allies and former opponents. However, these opposing slates—also advertising nationalism and crosssectarian alliances—contain prominent candidates and large support bases and the outcome of the election is difficult to predict. 

The continuing infighting among the major communities delayed the National Assembly's passage of the election law needed to hold the elections. An initial version of the election law was passed by the Council of Representatives (COR, parliament) on November 8, 2009, but was vetoed by one of Iraq's deputy presidents, Tariq al Hashimi, because of what he considered inadequate guarantees of representation for Sunni Iraqis displaced by recent violence. After continued infighting, threatened election boycotts, and adoption of another draft law that attracted another veto threat, all major factions adopted a draft—similar to the first version—on December 6, 2009. The next Assembly will have 325 seats, compared to 275 seats in the current Assembly. The election date of March 7, 2010, is well beyond the January 31, 2010, date that was originally targeted.This same difficulty of achieving consensus has delayed key outstanding legislation considered crucial to political comity going forward, such as national hydrocarbon laws, and may account for an apparent increase in violence in Iraq as campaigning begins (February 12). 

To date, the election infighting and violence—evidenced most notably by major bombings in Baghdad—have not jeopardized the Obama Administration's announced reduction of the U.S. troop presence to about 50,000 U.S. forces by August 2010. Under the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement that took effect January 1, 2009, and which President Obama has said would be followed, all U.S. forces are to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Senior U.S. military leaders continue to say that the U.S. draw-down plans are "on track." However, U.S. plans could be upset if the political infighting causes a major increase in violence or if the post-election political process of choosing the executive branch is held up for several months. See CRS Report RL31339, Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security, by Kenneth Katzman. 
.


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Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians

Susan G. Chesser
Information Research Specialist

This report collects statistics from a variety of sources on casualties sustained during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), which began on October 7, 2001, and is ongoing. OEF actions take place primarily in Afghanistan; however, OEF casualties also includes American casualties in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Yemen. 

Casualty data of U.S. military forces are compiled by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), as tallied from the agency's press releases. Also included are statistics on those wounded but not killed. Statistics may be revised as circumstances are investigated and as records are processed through the U.S. military's casualty system. More frequent updates are available at DOD's website at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/ under "Casualty Update." 

A detailed casualty summary of U.S. military forces that includes data on deaths by cause, as well as statistics on soldiers wounded in action, is available at the following DOD website: http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/castop.htm

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) does not post casualty statistics of the military forces of partner countries on the ISAF website at http://www.isaf.nato.int/. ISAF press releases state that it is ISAF policy to defer to the relevant national authorities to provide notice of any fatality. For this reason, this report uses fatality data of coalition forces as compiled by CNN.com and posted online at http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2004/oef.casualties/index.html

Casualty data of Afghan civilians are reported quarterly by the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA). Deaths of Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army personnel are reported by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction in the quarterly reports to Congress that are required as part of P.L. 110-181. 

Because the estimates of Afghan casualties contained in this report are based on varying time periods and have been created using different methodologies, readers should exercise caution when using them and should look to them as guideposts rather than as statements of fact.


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Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

The performance and legitimacy of the Afghan government figured prominently in two reviews of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan during 2009. In his December 1, 2009, speech on Afghanistan, which followed the second review, President Obama stated that the Afghan government would be judged on performance, and "The days of providing a blank check are over." The policy statement was based, in part, on an August 2009 assessment of the security situation furnished by the top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, which warned of potential mission failure unless a fully resourced classic counterinsurgency strategy is employed. That counterinsurgency effort is deemed to require a legitimate and effective Afghan partner. 

The Afghan government's limited writ and widespread official corruption are identified by U.S. officials as factors helping sustain the insurgency in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai has been able to confine ethnic disputes to political competition through compromise with faction leaders, but these political alliances have limited his ability to stock his government with politically neutral and technically competent officers. Despite the loss of confidence in Karzai, he went into the August 20, 2009, presidential election as the favorite. Amid widespread charges of fraud, many substantiated by a U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission, nearly one-third of Karzai's votes were invalidated, leaving Karzai just short of the 50%+ total needed to avoid a second-round runoff. Asserting that more fraud was likely, Karzai's main challenger dropped out of the race on November 1, 2009, and Karzai was declared the winner. He has since had difficulty obtaining parliamentary confirmation of a full cabinet, and 10 ministerial posts remain unfilled. Most of the highly regarded economic ministers have been confirmed. 

Karzai's hopes to rebuild international support for his leadership at a major international conference on Afghanistan in Britain on January 28, 2010, were partly fulfilled. The conference endorsed—and agreed to fund—his proposals to try to persuade insurgent fighters to give up their fight. For his part, at the conference Karzai committed to several specific steps to try to weed out official corruption and ensure that all future elections are free and fair. Prior to the conference, Karzai was challenged anew by international assertions that Afghan institutions will not be ready to hold credible parliamentary elections by May 22, 2010, a date set by Afghan election authorities. Lacking funds and taking into account logistical and security difficulties, this election date was postponed until September 18, 2010. 

Because most insurgents are, like Karzai, ethnic Pashtuns, stabilizing Afghanistan requires winning Pashtun political support for the Afghan government. This support requires effective local governing structures. The trend toward promoting local governing bodies has been accelerated by the Obama Administration and received substantial attention at the London conference. From the U.S. perspective, implementing this focus is a so-called "civilian uplift" that has doubled, to about 975, the number of U.S. civilian personnel helping build Afghan governing and security institutions and the economy. That number is expected to rise by another 30% during 2010. 

For further information, see CRS Report RL30588, Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, by Kenneth Katzman; and CRS Report R40747, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan: Background and Policy Issues, by Rhoda Margesson. 
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Date of Report: February 19, 2010
Number of Pages: 39
Order Number: RS21922
Price: $29.95

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