A major failure of Iraq's CPA over the last year was its inability to increase electricity production over pre-war levels. Iraq's electricity production has been stalled between 3,000 and 4,000 megawatts (See the attached chart from the Brooking Institution), well short of the CPA goal of 6,000 megawatts. The reasons for this included:
- Antiquated and dilapidated equipment. Long term underinvestment in infrastructure and two "hot" wars had destroyed much of the electrical infrastructure.
- A complex network. The variety of equipment providers (from all over the globe) has made the network diffucult to fix and operate.
- Attacks by global guerrillas. Over 100 attacks against power lines (and over 1,200 high voltage towers) have been attacked over the last year. Additionally, attacks on fuel (oil) supplies used by powerplants has shut down production.
How a lack of power has impacted Iraq
While no one attack on power production and delivery in Iraq has been crippling, the aggregate of these small attacks has been. Today, seven of Iraq's 15 provinces get less than 8 hours of power a day. The remaining eight get only 9 to 15 a day. The direct impact of this electricity shortage is difficult to unwind, however, it is clear that it has had a signficant impact on the following areas:
- Economics (and by extension employment). Companies require power for everything from computers to manufacturing machinery. The lack of power has idled companies and prevented an increase in employment. Currently, unemployment stands at 28-45% (see attached chart on employment).
- Security. The rise in attacks on power systems (as well as oil systems) has caused the CPA and the Iraqi interim government to allocate nearly 30% of its forces (over 70,000 men) to infrastructure protection. This allocation of forces is at the expense of other security needs (anti-terrorism).
- Legitmacy. A critical aspect of legitmacy is the ability of a government to keep vital infrastructure operational. Power disruptions served to undermine the CPAs popularity and will do the same with the interim government.
What this means
The efficacy of global guerrilla strategies is being proven daily in Iraq. This success will result in the following:
- The interim government in Iraq will fail if these attacks continue. If it does, the January election will prove to be very divisive and may be a prelude to civil war.
- Iraqi global guerrillas will hone their skills and share them with al Qaeda.
- Global guerrillas will use these stategies in Saudi Arabia.