By Michael Rubin, Special to CNN
Editor’s Note: Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes. The views expressed are his own.
Iraq is on a precipice from which it may never recover. The fall of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, to forces ostensibly from the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), may simply be the tip of the iceberg. What has happened in Iraq increasingly appears not simply to be a binary struggle between government and insurgent, but rather a more complicated problem that may be impossible to fully unravel.
I drove from Tikrit through Beiji to Mosul earlier this year, and into Syria along the same roads ISIS and other insurgents now use. Even then, government control over Mosul was tenuous. Iraqi soldiers at checkpoints on the outskirts of town urged me and my driver to reconsider my trip because Mosul was not safe; they relented only because a local vouched for me. After all, while Tikrit was home to former President Saddam Hussein and his immediate entourage, Mosul was the hometown of much of Saddam Hussein’s officer corps. It still is. As I continued on to the Syrian border, a special security agent at a checkpoint separated me from my taxi driver and another man accompanying us to ensure that I was there of my own free will. A senior security official in Baghdad subsequently told me that was standard protocol. It also reflects, however, the lawlessness of that area. Read the rest of this entry »
The U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq is cutting off vital intelligence bases and listening posts that have played a key role in clandestine operations that have scored major successes in the global counter-terrorism campaign.
The Central Intelligence Agency, which until recently operated outside the military establishment, is expected to stay on in various guises within the 17,000 U.S. personnel who will remain under State Department jurisdiction.
The CIA has become increasingly militarized since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and most of its establishment — including a heavily enlarged paramilitary division — is engaged in the counter-terrorism battle to one degree or another.
And with Gen. David Petraeus, the former military commander in Iraq and Afghanistan who wrote the army’s counter-insurgency manual, now the director of the CIA, the agency can be expected to maintain some covert operations. Read the rest of this entry »