Ex-CIA Official: Not in US Interest to Work With Iran on Iraq

Monday, 16 Jun 2014 01:28 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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It is not in the interest of the United States to work with Iran on trying to solve problems in Iraq due to the unrest posed by Islamic militant insurgents, said former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell.

Iran has indicated a willingness to work with the United States on the Iraqi conflict. Secretary of State John Kerry said he was open to the idea of working with Iran to find solutions to Iraq's crisis.

"I do not believe it is in the interest of the United States for us to work with Iran," Morell told CBS' "This Morning" on Monday. "I don't think we want to give Iran a foothold in Iraq."

"We need to help the Iraqis. The moderate [Persian] Gulf states need to help the Iraqis. We need to keep the Iranians out of this," he added.

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Al-Qaida inspired militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have quickly seized regions in northern Iraq and overtaken the cities of Mosul, Tikrit, and Tal Afar, and are threatening the capital of Baghdad. President Barack Obama on Friday said he was weighing options for how the United States might respond to the crisis.

Morell described the conflict as a "long-term struggle going on in the Middle East between Iran and our allies, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the moderate Gulf states — a fight going on for influence."

Morell blamed Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the crisis in that country.

"Maliki himself has created problems. He has created resentment among the Sunnis. That's why they're supporting ISIS. So, Maliki's been a problem," he said. "Maliki wouldn't work with us for a couple of years after the withdrawal of U.S. forces."

The unrest in Iraq is a "very, very big deal," Morell said, with numerous implications. He said the conflict posed the potential for a "bloody sectarian war that kills civilians," and presents a "broader risk to stability in the region."

Additionally, he said, "The risk to the United States homeland is real," and the possibility of Iraq breaking up has implications for the Kurds, who want to "form their own state."

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