Michael Hayden: Iraq's Collapse Nearing Its 'Endgame'

Sunday, 29 Jun 2014 10:50 AM

By Greg Richter

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ISIS, the terror group now controlling a large portion of northern Iraq and portions of eastern Syria, may have reached the limits of its power, says former NSA and CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden, but he also isn't optimistic of Iraq taking back any of the territory it has lost.

Hayden said last week that Iraq is likely lost, with a partitioning expected between the Sunni ISIS, the Shia government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the Kurds in the north. The partition is essentially already in place in a a de facto sense, Hayden said Sunday on "Fox News Sunday."

Kurds have grabbed the city of Kirkuk because they realize "this is endgame," Hayden said, and they need to get what they can before the partition is frozen into place.

But Hayden said President Barack Obama is not wasting time trying to force out Maliki and create a unified Iraqi state, because, Hayden admits, his analysis could well be wrong. The probability of a unified Iraq is not high, Hayden said, but if Maliki continues as leader, "it’s a zero-probability shot."

Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are artificial states created by European diplomacy almost a century ago, Hayden said, and realities on the ground were kept suppressed, first by European imperial power, then by the Cold War, and then Arab autocrats.

"All those are gone now, particularly Arab autocrats. And all those realities, that continue to exist, are now bubbling to the surface," he told Fox's Chris Wallace.

A partition might create a need for the United States to align with a newly created Kurdistan, he said, in order to maintain a U.S. presence in the region. That could leave "Sunni-stan," as Hayden calls the ISIS partition, treated much like Waziristan, the mountainous tribal region between Afghanistan and Pakistan that is subject to American drone strikes.

"This is not a favored outcome," Hayden said. "I wish my mind wasn't leading this progression of thoughts."

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