Friday, November 17, 2006

No Unbridled Optimism From Intel Bosses

The current estimate of the situation in Iraq from the directors of the CIA and DIA:

"The longer this goes on, the less controlled the violence is, the more the violence devolves down to the neighborhood level," (Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the CIA director) added. "The center disappears, and normal people acting not irrationally end up acting like extremists."

Although the Bush administration continues to emphasize the role of al-Qaeda in Iraq, (Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, the DIA director) described the current situation as "mostly an intra-Arab struggle to determine how power and authority will be distributed," with or without the U.S. presence. Al-Qaeda and foreign terrorist numbers were put at roughly 1,300, while Hayden, pressed by senators, estimated the number of insurgents in the "low tens of thousands." Maples estimated the number of Iraqi insurgents, including militias, at 20,000 to 30,000, and said there are many more who supply support.

Asked about the brazen kidnapping in Baghdad on Tuesday of some 100 employees in the Sunni-led Ministry of Education by an apparent Shiite group in commando uniforms using Interior Ministry vehicles, Hayden said the CIA station chief in Iraq said it showed that the battlefield "is descending into smaller and smaller groups fighting over smaller and smaller issues over smaller and smaller pieces of territory." ...

The Shiites, who make up more than half of Iraq's population, now want to make certain they control the new Iraqi government and to assure themselves that the Hussein group never regains power. "This fear of a return to Baathism is almost palpable among Shia elites," Hayden said.

As a result, the Shiites have maintained control of the Interior Ministry and the police. "Militias often operate under protection or approval of Iraqi police [when they] attack suspected Sunni insurgents and Sunni civilians," Hayden said. In addition, "radical Shia militias and splinter groups stoke the violence."

At the same time, Hayden said, there are fissures within the Shiite groups, and their "power struggles . . . make it difficult for Shia leaders to take actions that might ease Sunni fears." Adding to the problem is Iran, which is supporting even competing Shiite factions. "Iranian involvement with the Shia militias of all stripes . . . has been quite a new development," Hayden said.


Post a Comment

<< Home