The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Documents: Future of Iraq Project, Iraqi insurgency

A kind soul at the Memory Hole put up the entirety of the State Department's $5 million Future of Iraq Project (you know, the one nobody bothered to read) as PDF files. All 1200 pages. Here's the background:

Starting in October 2001, about a year and a half before the US and its allies invaded Iraq, the State Department spearheaded an effort called the Future of Iraq Project. Dozens of Iraqi exiles and international experts were brought together to figure out how to create a new Iraq should Saddam Hussein somehow be taken out of power.

Within the project, seventeen working groups covered such areas as the justice system, local government, agriculture, media, education, and oil. The various working groups began meeting in July 2002 and continued through March/April 2003. Twelve of the groups released reports. The project cost $5 million.

The project's observations and recommendations were almost wholly ignored by the administration during its pre-war planning for the occupation. Soon after the invasion, though, CD-ROMs of the reports were sent to the staff of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Among other things, the working groups foresaw the widespread looting in the aftermath of invasion and warned against quickly disbanding the Iraqi Army.

The project's reports have never been made available to the public. In October 2003, "Congressional officials" allowed two New York Times reporters to view the reports, but they were not allowed to take them. Upon reading this, I immediately filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the reports, which was granted in February 2006. Eight of the reports were released in their entirety, while the rest were redacted to some degree.
I suspect it will become essential reading for the next generation of occupations.

Also interesting is the Project for Defense Alternatives' compilation of documents that look at the Iraqi insurgency from sources such as ICG, Anthony Cordesman, WINEP and others. I've taken a look at the ICG and Cordesman documents, both of which are very interesting.