On December 6, 2006, the Iraq Study Group (ISG), co-chaired by James A. Baker III, former Secretary of State, and Lee H. Hamilton, a 34-year Congressman and 9/11 Commission member, issued its report, which included 79 specific recommendations.
On March 15, 2006, members from both parties in Congress supported the creation of the bipartisan Iraq War Study Group to review the situation on the ground, and to propose strategies for the way forward.
For more than 8 months, the Study Group met with military officers, regional experts, academics, journalists and high-level government officials from America and abroad.
The following are ISG's 79 recommendations.
The Iraq Study Group Report: 79 Recommendations
A. BUILDING INTERNATIONAL CONSENSUS
New Diplomatic Offensive
1. The United States, working with the Iraqi government, should launch the comprehensive New Diplomatic Offensive to deal with the problems of Iraq and of the region. This new diplomatic offensive should be launched before December 31, 2006.
2. The goals of the diplomatic offensive as it related to regional players should be to:
i. Support the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq.
ii. Stop the destabilizing interventions and actions by Iraq's neighbors.
iii. Secure Iraq's borders, including the use of joint patrols with neighboring countries.
iv. Prevent the expansion of the instability and conflict beyond Iraq's borders.
v. Promote economic assistance, commerce, trade, political supports, and, if possible, military assistance for the Iraqi government from non-neighboring Muslim nations.
vi. Energize countries to support national political reconciliation in Iraq.
vii. Validate Iraq's legitimacy by resuming diplomatic relations, where appropriate, and reestablishing embassies in Baghdad.
viii. Assist Iraq in establishing active working embassies in key capitals in the region.
ix. Help Iraq reach a mutually acceptable agreement on Kirkuk.
x. Assist the Iraqi government in achieving certain security, political, and economic milestones, including better performance on issues such as national reconciliation, equitable distribution of oil revenues, and the dismantling of militias.
Iraq International Support Group
3. As a complement to the diplomatic offensive, and in addition to the Support Group discussed below, the United States and the Iraqi government should support the holding of a conference or meeting in Baghdad of the Organization of the Islamic Conference or the Arab League both to assist the Iraqi government in promoting national reconciliation in Iraq and to reestablish their diplomatic presence in Iraq.
4. As an instrument of the New Diplomatic Offensive, an Iraq International Support Group should be organized immediately following the launch of the New Diplomatic Offensive.
5. The Support Group should consist of Iraq and all the states bordering Iraq, including Iran and Syria; the five key regional states, including Egypt and the Gulf States; the five permanent members of the United National Security Council; the European Union; and, of course, Iraq itself.
Other countries--for instance, Germany, Japan and South Korea--that might be willing to contribute to resolving political, diplomatic and security problems affecting Iraq could also become members.
6. The New Diplomatic Offensive and the work of the Support Group should be carried out with urgency, and should be conducted by and organized at the level of foreign minister or above. The Secretary of State, if not the President, should lead the U.S. effort. That effort should be both bilateral and multilateral, as circumstances require.
7. The Support Group should call on the participation of the office of the United Nations Secretary-General in its work. The United Nations Secretary-General should designate a Special Envoy as his representative.
8. The Support Group, as part of the New Diplomatic Offensive, should develop specific approaches to neighboring countries that take into account the interests, perspectives, and potential contributions as suggested above.
Dealing with Iran and Syria
9. Under the aegis of the New Diplomatic Offensive and the Support Group, the United States should engage directly with Iran and Syria in order to try to obtain their commitment to constructive policies toward Iraq and other regional issues. In engaging Syria and Iran, the United States should consider incentives, as well as disincentives, in seeking constructive results.
10. The issue of Iran's nuclear programs should continue to be dealt with the United Nations Security Council and its five permanent members(the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China), plus Germany.
11. Diplomatic efforts within the Support Group should seek to persuade Iran that it should take specific steps to improve the situation in Iraq.
12. The United States and the Support Group should encourage and persuade Syria of the merit of such contributions as the following:
i. Syria can control its border with Iraq to the maximum extent possible and work together with Iraqis on joint patrols on the border. Doing so will help stem the flow of funding, insurgents, and terrorists in and out of Iraq.
ii. Syria can establish hotlines to exchange information with the Iraqis.
iii. Syria can increase its political and economic cooperation with Iraq.
The Wider Regional Context
13. There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon and Syria, and President Bush's June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.