News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqIran, Syria Undermine Efforts in Iraq, CIA Says

Iran, Syria Undermine Efforts in Iraq, CIA Says

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Reuters: The director of the CIA accused Iran on Thursday of meddling in Iraq and said Syria was not working hard enough to stop militants entering the country to undermine Baghdad’s efforts at stability. “I think it’s fair to say that just about everybody who’s been watching understands that Iran has been meddling in the affairs of Iraq,” CIA Director Porter Goss told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee in a presentation on … Reuters

The director of the CIA accused Iran on Thursday of meddling in Iraq and said Syria was not working hard enough to stop militants entering the country to undermine Baghdad’s efforts at stability.

“I think it’s fair to say that just about everybody who’s been watching understands that Iran has been meddling in the affairs of Iraq,” CIA Director Porter Goss told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee in a presentation on worldwide threats to U.S. national security.

“How that is going to work out in the future is a matter of some concern,” he added.

Goss also said that despite international diplomatic efforts, Iran was not being as open about its nuclear program as it needed to be.

“I also would say that their lack of candor, their lack of transparency on the subject of their nuclear program causes people to have reasonable doubt about” their intent and capabilities, he said. “That is extremely worrisome from the point of view of proliferation.”

Goss, who declined to give specific answers to many questions, said Iran was one of the few obvious state supporters of terrorism, citing the Lebanese militia Hizbollah as an example, and adding: “They ought to stop it.”

Asked whether recent events involving Syria — such as U.S. pressure to stop supporting militants and the start of its withdrawal of troops from Lebanon — were having an impact on the infiltration of militants into Iraq via Syria, Goss said:

“Despite a lot of very well-intentioned and persistent efforts to try and get more cooperation from the Syrian regime, we have not had the success I wish I could report. How events will affect those efforts to achieve further cooperation remains to be seen in the future.”

IRAQI PUBLIC KEY TO DEFEATING INSURGENCY

Goss said U.S. forces in Iraq have become more successful at catching insurgents as they act or prepare to act. “We’re getting good at that,” he said.

But Defense Intelligence Agency Director Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby, who appeared with Goss, said the key to defeating the insurgents was human intelligence from Iraqi citizens willing to report on insurgent activities.

“(If) we get to that situation, that’s the way to take on an insurgency more successfully than we’ve been able to do today,” Jacoby said.

But the Iraqi public continues to view U.S.-led forces as occupiers and there is no sign of an increased willingness to help U.S. or Iraqi authorities combat the insurgency.

“I can’t pin down perceptible change in participation,” he said.

Jacoby estimated there are between 12,000 and 20,000 insurgents in Iraq, of which “a very small percentage, in the single digit percentage, are non-Iraqis.”

The number of attacks fell to about 60 per day after the Jan. 30 elections, and again to about 50 a day over the last two weeks. Jacoby said the numbers could fall further but added it was early to say whether this marked a trend.

According to Goss, much of the insurgency consists of individuals and small groups operating without coordination.

“We’re not talking about what I would call a nice organized network that we can go penetrate. This is a lot of individual inspiration, two or three guys getting together,” he said. (Additional reporting by Caroline Drees)

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