Tags: Afghanistan | Barack Obama | Iran | Iraq | ISIS/Islamic State | David Petraeus | Iran

Petraeus: Iran-Backed Shiites Greater Threat Than ISIS

Image: Petraeus: Iran-Backed Shiites Greater Threat Than ISIS
Shia fighters from the Al-Akida brigade parading through the streets in Karbala, Iraq. (Transterra Media/Barcroft/Barcroft Media/Landov)

Friday, 20 Mar 2015 04:57 PM

Former CIA Director David Petraeus, who led the American troop surge in Iraq eight years ago, has warned that Shiite militia, controlled by Iran, are a greater threat to U.S. national security than the Islamic State.

While attending the annual forum of Iraqi leaders, academics and strategists at the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, Gen. Petraeus told The Washington Post that he was appalled that the Islamic State (ISIS) now controls vast areas of the country.

"What has happened in Iraq is a tragedy — for the Iraqi people, for the region and for the entire world. It is tragic foremost because it didn't have to turn out this way," said Petraeus, who commanded U.S. troops in Iraq from 2007-2008.

"The hard-earned progress of the surge was sustained for over three years. What transpired after that, starting in late 2011, came about as a result of mistakes and misjudgments whose consequences were predictable. And there is plenty of blame to go around for that."

Petraeus, who resigned as CIA boss in a salacious 2012 scandal involving him handing spy secrets to his then-mistress, continued, "Yet despite that history and the legacy it has left, I think Iraq and the coalition forces are making considerable progress against the Islamic State."

"In fact, I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State. Rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by, and some guided by, Iran."

In his long interview with the Post, Petraeus said the Shiite militia had returned to the battlefield after Shia leader Grand Ayatollah Sistani had called for a fatwa against ISIS as Islamic militants ran rampant in Iraq, and had prevented the terror group from continuing its offensive into Baghdad.

"Nonetheless, they have, in some cases, cleared not only Sunni extremists but also Sunni civilians and committed atrocities against them," said Petraeus.

"Thus, they have, to a degree, been both part of Iraq's salvation but also the most serious threat to the all-important effort of once again getting the Sunni Arab population in Iraq to feel that it has a stake in the success of Iraq rather than a stake in its failure.

"Longer term, Iranian-backed Shia militia could emerge as the preeminent power in the country, one that is outside the control of the government and instead answerable to Tehran.

"Beyond Iraq, I am also profoundly worried about the continuing meltdown of Syria, which is a geopolitical Chernobyl. Until it is capped, it is going to continue to spew radioactive instability and extremist ideology over the entire region."

He added, "Any strategy to stabilize the region thus needs to take into account the challenges in both Iraq and Syria. It is not sufficient to say that we’ll figure them out later."

This month, the married Petraeus pleaded guilty to handing out classified information to his ex-mistress Paula Broadwell, an author who was also his biographer, during their scandalous affair.

Petraeus passed on eight "black books" to Broadwell that contained top secret material, including code words, war tactics, the identities of covert operatives and even his private conversations with President Barack Obama.

In a plea deal filed in a North Carolina federal court, the former top Army general pleaded guilty to one federal count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.

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Former CIA Director David Petraeus, who led the American troop surge in Iraq eight years ago, has warned that Shiite militia, controlled by Iran, are a greater threat to U.S. national security than the Islamic State.
David Petraeus, Iran, Shiites, Islamic State, ISIS, Iraq
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2015-57-20
Friday, 20 Mar 2015 04:57 PM
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