Iraq Policy: Who's in Charge?
I have a new post out today on Hudson-NY about PM Maliki's visit to Washington, and the confusion over who really controls the Iraqi file within the Obama administration.
I also put in something that I don't believe anyone has reported on:
It is in this vein that Washington’s decision to quietly shut down a key intelligence operation to keep tabs on the Iranians in November 2008 seems so misplaced and astonishing. The intelligence operation partnered up twenty five Iraqi intelligence agents with a like number of CIA agents. It began in late 2003, and its size remained the same. They were headquartered in a building separate from the Iraqi Intelligence Service HQ, and operated independently of any Iraqi oversight. Their chief mission was to track and, where possible, to offset Iran’s intelligence and operational footprint inside Iraq, and to follow leads back across the border into Tehran, Damascus and Beirut. As can be expected with such operations, some of its work is questionable; it partook in Iraqi politics, even exercising violence through a separate paramilitary arm, at times in an illegal and unethical manner. However, its work was crucial in keeping the Iranians—specifically the Iranian Revolutionary Guard which took the lead after mid-2004—on their toes.Read the whole thing here...
I was hosted on Alhurra TV on July 22 (episode # 1395) to discuss these issues, and it can be watched (in Arabic) here. The big story, of course, is that US intelligence had signed a protocol for negotiating with an insurgent umbrella group this spring in Istanbul, and the Iraqi government is up in arms over this revelation, first made on July 15 by the General Secretary of the 'Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance' Ali al-Juburi during an interview with Aljazeera. I'll have more to say about this over the next few days.