Saturday, July 17, 2010

U.S. General Warns Of Iranian Supported Attacks Upon American Forces In Iraq This Summer

On July 13, 2010 commander of U.S. forces in Iraq General Ray Odierno gave a press conference where he warned that the Iranian backed Khataib Hezbollah group may carryout attacks upon American forces this summer as they drew down to 50,000 troops. Odierno said that Iran and the Shiite Special Groups it supported have long claimed that they were the ones responsible for making the U.S. leave, so they wanted to harass Americans on their way out to prove their point. One of their recent attacks was a missile fired at the Green Zone while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Iraq. U.S. forces have carried out some raids in July in response, and netted two criminal associates of Khataib Hezbollah who were thought to be arms smugglers in Baghdad on July 10, and a Hezbollah member suspected of planting roadside bombs the next day.

Despite the warning, Odierno mentioned that this was a short-term threat to U.S. troops only, and not to the Iraqi government. The general stressed that Iran has largely moved away from its military policy in Iraq since 2008, and is instead focusing upon its political and economic influence. That’s led U.S. officials to constantly warn against undo Iranian pressure on Iraqi politicians while they form a new government. Odierno’s comments show the many levers Tehran has at its disposal in Iraq. It can use military means when it wants through the various Shiite militias it supports. At the same time, it has close ties to many Iraqis in the government and is a major trade partner as well. While its power ebbs and flows depending upon the situation within Iraq, it looks to be a long-time player in the country.

SOURCES

Department of Defense, “Iraqi Forces Arrest Several Terrorism Suspects,” 7/12/10

Fadel, Leila, “Amid threat, U.S. heightens security at its Iraq bases,” Washington Post, 7/13/10

Peterson, Scott, “Odierno: Militants trained in Iran prepare to attack US bases in Iraq,” Christian Science Monitor, 7/13/10

Roggio, Bill, “Iranian-backed Shia terror group remains a threat in Iraq: General Odierno,” Long War Journal, 7/13/10

Ur Agency, “U.S. General Accuses Iran of Targeting Biden With Missiles Fired at Green Zone,” MEMRI Blog, 7/13/10

Williams, Timothy and Arango, Tim, “U.S. Commander in Iraq Warns of Summer Attacks,” New York Times, 7/13/10

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