Jerusalem – A report submitted the week for the U.S. Defense Department has determined that Al Qaida in Iraq would resist any offensive by Baghdad over the next few years.

The report by the Rand Corp. asserted that Iraq, even with U.S. help, would fail to eliminate the Al Qaida (AQI) terror network.

“Eradicating AQI may exceed ISF capabilities, even with U.S. help, but the AQI threat is more likely to grow weaker rather than stronger,” the report said.

Titled, “Withdrawing from Iraq: Alternative Schedules, Associated Risks, and Mitigating Strategies,” the report provided a bleak picture of Iraq’s capability to destroy the Al Qaida terror network. Rand said Al Qaida would remain viable in Iraq despite a decline in financing and recruitment.

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“AQI is hampered by a lack of popular support, by restricted movement, and by a dearth of financing,” the report said. “It is now largely confined to Mosul, the Tigris River Valley, and Diyala province. One of its principal causes, and a source of recruiting and fund-raising — the U.S. occupation — is ending.”

The report was released in late July 2009 amid a resurgence of Al Qaida in Iraq’s largest province, Anbar. Al Qaida, after a lull of nearly two years, was said to have renewed operations in such Sunni cities as Faluja and Samara.

Rand said AQI has been hampered by the sharp drop in the flow of foreign volunteers to Iraq. As a result, the report said Al Qaida has been increasingly relying on Iraqi women for suicide and other operations.

Syria has been deemed as the way station for at least 90 percent of Al Qaida volunteers to Iraq. The report said Syria has hosted a range of Sunni insurgency groups exiled from Iraq and seeking to destabilize the Baghdad government.

A U.S. combat troop withdrawal was expected to renew the ethnic war in Iraq, another report said.

The Institute of National Security Studies asserted that the 130,000 American troops have largely succeeded in preventing civil war in Iraq. In a report by U.S. Air Force Maj. Clint ZumBrunnen, the institute warned that any reconciliation effort by Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds must be backed by American force.

“The correlation between fragile stability in Iraq and the presence of U.S. combat forces is difficult to ignore, even if it is true that US forces do not control the country,” said the report by ZumBrunnen, a U.S. Air Force scholar.

The report dismissed U.S. claims of a military victory in the insurgency war in Iraq. Instead, ZumBrunnen asserted that the Sunni insurgency in Iraq abated when the United States provided massive financing to Sunni tribes in central and western Iraq.

“Any precipitous withdrawal of US combat power will greatly reduce U.S. leverage in Iraq and risk a return to the sectarian strife of 2006 simply because few of Iraq’s serious internal conflicts have been resolved,” the report said.

President Obama has pledged to withdraw all combat troops from Iraq by August 2010, leaving an estimated 50,000 advisers and support personnel.

But the report warned that Sunnis and Kurds, the biggest supporters of a U.S. military presence, would harden their positions toward the dominate Shi’ite community once the Americans begin to withdraw. For its part, the Shi’ite community has been split by a power struggle led by the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army, commanded by Moqtada Sadr.

Meanwhile, ZumBrunnen said, the United States has been led into a potential war in northern Iraq regarding the authority and size of the autonomous Kurdish region. The focus of the confrontation has been the oil-rich area of Kirkuk.

“Both sides are now edgier because there is less certainty that the U.S. will intervene to prevent one side or the other from exploiting an advantage,” the report said. “And since any grand bargain between Arabs and Kurds mediated by the United Nations will likely require a powerful military force for enforcement, knowledge that U.S. forces will withdraw completely by 2011 lessens the chance for a nonviolent solution to the dispute.

Accordingly, both the [Kurdish] peshmerga and the ISF [Iraqi security forces] continue to prepare for eventual conflict.”

The report said the United States must now focus on helping determine control over Iraq’s crude oil reserves, deemed the most explosive of ethnic disputes. Since October 2008, no progress has been reported in talks between the government and major ethnic groups.

“This is where the additional role U.S. combat forces fill in Iraq comes into play,” the report said. “Not only are these forces the guardians of a tense peace; they are also the instrument of power that lends credibility to other U.S. levers at the negotiating table.

Degrading their capability before any long term agreement exists on an issue so vital to Iraq’s future weakens U.S. ability to shepherd all sides into a compromise, and more ominously, invites a return to the sectarianism of 2006 and 2007.”

David Bedein can be reached at


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.