Iranian dissidents’ fate in Iraq shows limits of U.S. sway

Iranian dissidents’ fate in Iraq shows limits of U.S. sway

Last September, Gen. David H. Petraeus told reporters in Baghdad that the United States had been assured by the Iraqi government that the 3,400 Iranian dissidents in a camp in eastern Iraq would continue to be protected after the Americans turned over responsibility for the camp to Iraqi forces.

Last week’s bloody melee between Iraqi police officers and the residents of the camp has not only raised fresh doubts in Washington about the worth of these assurances, but has also exposed just how little leverage American officials now have in a country they largely controlled for almost six years.

It has also forced the Obama administration to confront some of the thorny issues that bedeviled its predecessor: how to prevent Iraq from falling deeper under Tehran’s influence, and how to fashion a tough Iran policy amid delicate negotiations to dismantle the country’s burgeoning nuclear program. [continued…]

Iraqis fear latest bombings signal return of al Qaida in Iraq

Bombings at five Shiite Muslim mosques killed 29 worshippers Friday in a series of attacks that Iraqi army and police officers are interpreting as a sign that insurgents are determined to destabilize the country now that American forces have withdrawn from Iraqi cities and towns.

“You will see them attempting to start the sectarian violence again,” said a high-ranking Iraqi army officer who commands a unit in western Baghdad. He asked not to be named because he isn’t authorized to speak to the media.

Iraqi army and police officers told McClatchy that the pattern of attacks against the armed forces and civilians resembles the tactics that the extremist Sunni group al Qaida in Iraq used before 2006. The increase in car bombs, roadside bombs and death threats indicates that the Islamic extremist group is attempting to restore ground it lost during the “surge” of American forces in 2008, the officers said. [continued…]

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