Secret U.S. Plan to Aid Iraq Fizzled Amid Mutual Distrust

(Wall Street Journal) Adam Entous, Julian E. Barnes and Siobhan Gorman - President Obama authorized a secret plan late last year to aid Iraqi troops in their fight against Sunni extremists by sharing intelligence on the militants' desert encampments, but devoted only a handful of U.S. specialists to the task. The program also faced restrictions by the Iraqis, and U.S. surveillance flights took place just once a month. Instead of providing Iraqis with real-time drone feeds and intercepted communications from ISIS, U.S. intelligence specialists gave the Iraqis limited photographic images, reflecting U.S. concerns that more sensitive data would end up in Iranian hands, officials said. At the end of April, the Pentagon dispatched a team of special-operations personnel to assess the capabilities of Iraq's security forces, a defense official said. The assessment they brought back was bleak: Sunni Army officers had been forced out, overall leadership had declined, the Iraqi military wasn't maintaining its equipment and had stopped conducting rigorous training. In a Friday sermon, a spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric, said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki should consider stepping aside.

2014-06-23 00:00:00

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