Feb. 02, 2007 -- A new National Intelligence Estimate paints a grim view of the security situation in Iraq.
Highlights of the report include:
"Civil war" accurately describes key aspects of the conflict, but the report indicates that there is clearly more than just a civil war at hand.
The report says: "The Intelligence Community judges that the term 'civil war' does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, al-Qa'ida and Sunni insurgent attacks on Coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence. Nonetheless, the term 'civil war' accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements."
A Deteriorating Situation
The situation in Iraq could grow much worse.
Events like the complete defection of Sunnis from the government or the assassination of key political and religious leaders could "shift Iraq's trajectory from gradual decline to rapid deterioration with grave humanitarian, political, and security consequences" that could spill beyond Iraq's borders.
The Consequences of U.S. Withdrawal
A rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces would have catastrophic consequence, and the Iraqi Security Forces "would be unlikely to survive as a non-sectarian national institution."
Neighboring countries "might intervene openly in the conflict; massive civilian casualties and forced population displacement would be probable."
Al Qaeda would attempt to use Al-Anbar as a base to launch attacks in and outside of Iraq and Turkey may launch a military incursion into Iraq.
Iran is providing "lethal support" for Iraqi Shia groups that "clearly intensifies the conflict in Iraq" but Iraq's neighbors are "not likely to be a major driver of violence" in the months ahead. Iraq's sectarian conflicts were described as "self-sustaining."