Iran replaces Al-Qaeda as chief US concern in Iraq

Recent violence in Basra has convinced the US administration that Iran and not Al-Qaeda is now the primary threat to US interests in Iraq.

Iran replaces Al-Qaeda as chief US concern in Iraq

Recent violence in Basra has convinced the administration of President George W. Bush that Iran and not Al-Qaeda is now the primary threat to US interests in Iraq, The Washington Post said Saturday.

Citing unnamed senior US officials, the newspaper said this view has sparked a broad reassessment of Washington's policy in the region and prompted Defense Secretary Robert Gates to speak about Tehran's "malign" influence there.

During their Washington visit, General David Petraeus, the top US military commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker barely mentioned Al-Qaeda in Iraq but spoke extensively of Iran, the paper said.

With "Al-Qaeda in retreat and disarray" in Iraq "we see other obstacles that were under the waterline more clearly .. The Iranian-armed militias are now the biggest threat to internal order," the Post quoted one official as saying.

As a result of this new approach, the administration has initiated an inter-agency assessment of what is known about Iranian activities and intentions and how to combat them, the report said.

President Bush for his part reiterated, in an interview with ABC News, that if Iran continues to help militias in Iraq, "then we'll deal with them."

Agencies
Last Mod: 12 Nisan 2008, 17:42
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