Iran Is Now a Bigger Threat in Iraq Than al-Qaeda: US Officials

By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2008 3:06 PM CDT
During their congressional testimony, Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus barely mentioned al-Qaeda.   (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
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(Newser) – Recent battles in Basra prove that Iran is crippling Iraqi stability while al-Qaeda's influence there wanes, US officials say. David Petraeus pointed to Iran's influence in testimony this week, and now Shiite militias are said to have benefited from Iranian weapons, training, and guidance in Basra fighting—prompting a Washington probe of Iran's impact, the Washington Post reports.

Al-Qaeda is “in retreat and disarray,” one official said, but “the Iranian-armed militias are now the biggest threat to internal order.” Yet Iran's influence may not spark a broader war: President Bush said he is reluctant to push for war with Iran, and Nouri al-Maliki’s offensive against the Shiite militias may give him credibility with Iraqi Sunnis and Kurds.