TWAW: "I see very little evidence right now of any real intent for reconcilliation."
TOM FOREMAN: This week it was announced that the Third Brigade of the First Cavalry Division is pulling out of Diyala Province and they will not be replaced. This is only the beginning of a drawdown of 35,000 U.S. troops by next summer. So that's it. The so-called surge is ending. And in many ways, the military has succeeded in what it set out to do, providing breathing space for Iraqi politicians to solve their own problems free of daily violence. So, are Baghdad's politicians stepping up to the challenge? Michael Ware is in CNN's Baghdad bureau, former Iraqi representative to the U.S. Rend al-Rahim is with me here in Washington as is senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre.
Let me start with you, Michael. Is there a sense there that the politicians are more focused on solving these problems now that violence has dropped so much?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. I'm certainly not reading that at all. There is not even a scintilla of evidence of that. Certainly there is the public platitudes. There is the verbal offerings that the politicians are giving the American military and the American diplomatic mission here, but to be honest, I don't see it going beyond that. I mean, the catch phrase now of American success or failure is Iraqi reconciliation. We've seen the Americans now stand up Sunni militias, while they've been crying for years for the Shia to stand down their Shia militias.
Now this has done many things. A, it's helped crimp al Qaeda. But, B, secondly, it's also been a stick with which the Americans have been able to beat or pressure the Iraqi government into doing a number of things: curbing police infractions, curbing the Shia militia, but it's also meant to force them to the reconciliation table.
Now I have been with the Sunni militias and I'm talking to the power brokers within the Shia government. And once you get past the pretense of the public game, I see very little evidence right now of any real intent for reconciliation. My opinion is they are just waiting for America to get out of the way so they can go for each other.
FOREMAN: That's a very bleak assessment. Rend al-Rahim, do you agree with it?
REND AL-RAHIM, U.S. INSTITUTE FOR PEACE: I agree with the political analysis, that there isn't enough dialogue going on, there isn't enough reconcilation.
The Iraqi government says there is. Says there is. That they are moving forward with legislation and so on. The Sunnis on the other hand say there isn't enough, and they say there isn't enough dialogue.
I do not agree with Michael Ware, though, when he says that everybody is waiting for the U.S. to move out so they can get at each other militarily and have a big fight. I think we do need more dialog, we do need international and domestic efforts at reconciliation, but the conditions in Iraq right now, they are ripe, but the Iraqi politicians don't know how to take advantage of them.
FOREMAN: Let's talk about the benchmarks we talked so much about before. Holding provincial elections, de-Baathification laws -- dealing with the people who used to be part of Saddam's regime -- amendments to the Constitution, disband sectarian militias and oil revenue sharing. Of those five we mentioned there, any real progress on any of them at this point?
AL-RAHIM: Yes. A little bit. Because we have had a review of the Constitution, and the revisions have been given to parliament to look at. The other thing is the de-Baathification. There is a law called Amnesty and Reconciliation or something like that, that has been approved in the Cabinet and should go to Parliament very soon.
However, you are right, of everything is stalled or at least everything is going at a snail's pace, and that is because the issues are highly political, they are very charged issues. They are not just simple legislation with a yes or no vote. So it is going to take a lot more time, but it needs more discussion amongst the Iraqis, they need to come together.
FOREMAN: Jamie, what does the Pentagon make of all of this? Because the Pentagon has really -- all evidence is, in the past few months, exercised a very smart strategy that really is working?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they are arguing is the strategy is working, not the way they originally envisioned the way it was going to work. Yes, the progress on those big benchmarks that you are talking about is not anywhere near what the Pentagon had hoped.
But there is a lot of unexpected progress, they say, in other levels, a lot of reconciliation on a local level even while the national government seems to be sort of grasping, trying to find some way ahead, and it's very much like the so-called Anbar awakening, which was an unanticipated positive development of the surge. Wasn't necessarily directly part of the strategy. They say they are seeing that kind of progress here so, you know, it's sort of a glass half full, glass half empty. As they are going ahead into the next six months, they are drawing the troops down, they are hoping build on some of those unexpected successes.
FOREMAN: Michael Ware, listen to what Brigadier General John Campbell said about the Sunnis there where they had a lot of success getting people to ease along here. "The Sunnis have shown great patience," he said, "and you don't want the Sunnis that are working with you to go back to the dark side."
Michael, how long do you think the progress, the military progress there can continue before there is either a demand for political progress or the lack of it causes everything to collapse again?
WARE: Well, honestly, I don't think the Sunnis are truly expecting great strides in the political domain. I mean, for the Sunnis, the greatest achievement and that which will sustain them in my belief is the fact that they now see America supporting them. Now, we're talking about the Baathists, the former military and intelligence apparatus of Saddam's regime. These are the people who first came to America offering a deal in 2003. Now, four years later, they finally have it.
They are allowed to be armed. They have American support, indeed America is paying 67,000 Sunni militiamen to be on the streets of the capital and of Anbar Province. Now this this has nothing to do with the surge. The surge was meant to put U.S. troops, to flood them into the capital to dampen violence to buy oxygen for political reconciliation.
Well, that's not what's resulted, what has dampened the violence are these Sunni militias protecting Sunni enclaves. We have a segregated and divided city here and that means that these communities can better defend themselves. The real question is what's the price and what happens when America leaves?
FOREMAN: Rend, what do you think?
AL-RAHIM: It's very important to bring the Sunni tribes into the political fold and we can't have another election to get them into Parliament yet. I don't think that's likely. However, my understanding is that the Iraqi government has new lists of potential ministers to go into the Cabinet. And they include members of the Anbar tribes as potential ministers. Those names on the list were provided by the Anbar tribes.
FOREMAN: Do you have a sense that there is a sense of urgency among the Iraqi central leadership where they say this is the moment we have something approaching peace or a lot better than it was. We've got to act?
AL-RAHIM: Yes. I don't think there is enough of a sense of urgency. They know that they need to do this, they are moving towards it, but they are not moving toward it in the way we should be seeing.
FOREMAN: Jamie, last word to you on that. How much is the military just watching that political situation, saying please move now?
MCINTYRE: Well, they are very concerned that the Iraqi politicians are not going to step up. And all this progress will be lost. I would say one thing about what Michael said, he's absolutely right that a lot of things have happened are not a direct result of the surge. One thing we have seen is a clearing out of a lot of these bomb-making facilities that were in southern Baghdad and that may be partly responsible for the downtick in IEDs and other attacks.
FOREMAN: And with that, thank you Jamie McIntyre, and Rend al-Rahim. And Michael Ware as well.