On June 28, the United States and its coalition partners transferred sovereign control of Iraq to an interim government headed by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. The transfer of sovereignty ended more than a year of American-led occupation, and put in place an Iraqi political process that is expected to lead to elections and a new Iraqi constitution next year.

Several weeks into this new phase in Iraq, how well can we say the American-led occupation went, and how are things going now? While we know that the situation is not going to change overnight, our measures do not show much improvement in the quality of life for Iraqis since our last report on this page in May. Though the unemployment rate appears to be dropping and electricity production is rising, the economy is still not much better than it was under Saddam Hussein.

The end of the occupation has, however, led to an improvement in Iraqi morale and hopefulness. That may in turn reduce the willingness of Iraqi citizens to join the resistance out of frustration or anger at the United States.

But Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld probably spoke too soon when he suggested in late July that Iraq “continues to calm down.” Casualty levels remain high—for Iraqis and foreigners, citizens and soldiers alike. Car bombings, rates of violent crime, and insurgent attacks on foreign and Iraqi security forces show no signs of abating. And according to the most recent American intelligence, the Iraqi resistance is now substantially larger than previously estimated. Fortunately, Iraqi security forces continue to grow in numbers and to improve in quality. But whether their abilities are growing fast enough to be able to secure the country for democracy remains an open question.

View the Op-Chart (graphic design by Amy Unikewicz)

View the May 2004 Chart

View the February 2004 Chart

View the November 2003 Chart