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BLITZER'S BLOG: Petraeus' secret trip to Iraq
December 21st, 2011
04:18 PM ET

BLITZER'S BLOG: Petraeus' secret trip to Iraq

By Wolf Blitzer, CNN

(CNN) – When I got up early Wednesday morning, I got an e-mail from CNN's Arwa Damon in Baghdad. She had been hearing that CIA Director David Petraeus was spotted in Iraq in recent days. She asked me to check it out with my sources in Washington, which, of course, I did.

I learned that the retired U.S. Army general who once commanded U.S. forces in Iraq had indeed gone to Iraq, this time as head of the CIA. I was also told he was already back in Washington safe and sound.

Petraeus has a long history in Iraq. I had dinner with him in 2005 in Baghdad when things were very gloomy for the entire U.S.-led operation. He later helped put together the surge strategy that tended to stabilize the situation. He knows the country well and, more importantly, the leadership.

But things are really on the verge of meltdown right now. Tensions between the Shiite leadership of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and so many of his Sunni coalition partners are intense. The Kurdish leadership, the most pro-American of the bunch, is watching very cautiously and nervously from its semi-autonomous region in the north.

There is a serious fear of violence breaking out among the three groups. Talk of a civil war – coming only days after all U.S. troops pulled out of the country – is rampant.

Sen. John McCain, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee and a frequent visitor to Iraq, told me Tuesday that he doesn’t have confidence in al-Maliki. I don’t think a lot of American experts both inside and outside the government do have confidence in him. His leadership is lacking.

A deputy prime minister who’s a Sunni told Damon that al-Maliki is like a “mini-Saddam Hussein.” A vice president, also a Sunni, has been accused of supporting terrorism and is now holed up in Kurdistan.

None of this bodes well for Iraq, or the 17,000 American diplomats and private security contractors who are still in the country. I’m very worried about their safety.

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RELATED STORY: Petraeus back from Baghdad


Filed under: Iraq • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Tactical Conflict Management Solutions

    It is Iran trying to save Assad the arrest of Tariq al-Hashemi, a show trial and a hanging to bring the Sunni fighters back across the border, he will go to Turkey and then to Saudi Arabia. Another stupid move by Iran as Russia and the PRC would lose their investments they have made in Iraq energy if sectarian war breaks out. al-Maliki has always overestimated the capability of his security forces. al-Maliki will not be so smart when Sunni's and Kurds are in control of Syria. The Sunni and Kurd oil an gas can be pumped to the Med via the Iran, Iraq and Syria pipeline, we will cut Iran out of it and Shiite fields also. So when the Iranian idiot shut the straits of hormuz it and we block the Gulf of Oman in reply al-Maliki oil will be going nowhere. Something like that. The important thing is we are not in the middle of it, old W and his SOFA, which is were our boys are at home on the sofa.

    December 21, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  2. LaRoe

    The US wars never end. look at the row of ribbons on the General. I count 10. The generals of WW 2 might have 2 maybe 3 rows, but never what we see today. Our wars gone on for ever. Ike warned about our country becoming a military complex but it has happened. It has become a way of life with military budget becoming larger every year.

    December 21, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  3. Clark

    The British stayed in Iraq for 50 years and the country collapsed into chaos almost immediately after they left, eventually bringing Saddam Hussein to power. Iraq is a phony country invented by the British without regard for ethnic, religious, and tribal differences or previous borders.

    December 21, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  4. elnido

    The 17,000 "advisors" are nothing more than diplomatically privileged troops remaining in Iraq. Once the Iraqi's rejected our SOFA requirements, all that was left to us was diplomatic immunity. These troops (really contractors and some US GI's) are going to be the "stability forces" in Iraq for the foreseeable future. There WILL be a civil war; either between the Shia and Sunni and/or Kurds in the near term and our people will be in the middle. This is a situation that will cost us lives in the short term and result in nothing in the long term. What a waste!

    December 21, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  5. Brian Smith

    The 17,000 so called 'diplomats' don't have to be there – they could all come home and we could leave the billion dollar compount to the Iraqis along with the other 800 million $ of gifts and equipment we're already giving away.

    December 21, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  6. Tom in Santa Fe

    Blitzer: "I don’t think a lot of American experts both inside and outside the government do have confidence in him [al-Maliki]."

    Duh! I admit that I am no expert and even I don't have any confidence in al-Maliki...

    December 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  7. Rags

    Who cares. They were animals before and nothing has changed except our lost funds and lots of lost American souls. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld need to be incarcerated for that slimy decision.

    WMD?? There were none and they knew it before wasting our young people's lives.

    December 21, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  8. Brian

    The reality may be that we or a expanded force of multiple nations will have to go back and secure the oilfields in the north and south. Sad...

    December 21, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • J.V.Hodgson

      Brian this should never , ever even enter our heads. We wasted more resources time and energy on this nation than it is worth.
      If it now chooses to destroy itself or have a civil war so be it and if a dictator takes over again also so be it. The people of Iraq have a choice and only they can make it. However much we may be disappointed with what happens.
      Time for America to stop being fixated economically on OIL and find an alternative. Oil prices do not justify war!!
      Regards,
      Hodgson.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  9. Brent

    Where exactly was all this concern when the war was started Wolf? Did you ask anyone in the Bush administration what exactly the plan was when they got to Bahgdad and unleashed this nightmare? There was never any victory to be had in that country, and as someone familiar with that region you should have known better.

    December 21, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  10. Falcon 78 in Northern VA

    Let's see–Maliki is a shia (that's Hatfield in Farsi) and the #2 guy who they are trying to prosecute is a Sunni (that's McCoy) in Arabic. They will kill each other for no good reason. There are no George Washington's in that part of the world. Sunni-shia conflict is the world's original Hatfields and McCoys. They couldn't even tell you why they started fighting and hating in the first place. Throw in the opportunists and foreign fighters and influence and you proverbially have the "perfect storm."

    December 21, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Mike

      The Sunni and Shia know exactly when they started fighting (656 AD) and they know exactly why (who gets to head the faith). Both sides killed the first leader of the other side and they've been hostile to varying degrees ever since. Try a Google ("sunni vs. shia") before making something up.

      December 21, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Merry Christmas Genera Petraeus , all the best in the New Year .

    Thank you for your commitment !

    December 21, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • LiveFreeor

      Thanks for your committment to the American-engineered, genocidal, insane asylum that is Iraq and Afghanistan

      December 21, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
  12. NoTags

    Pull all the Americans out of harms way and let the Iraqis kill each other.

    December 21, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  13. SarahTonin

    I can't believe that we are so stupid. We pull the troops out and leave 17,000 advisers behind. They are in grave danger, I'd say. Iraq will now seek it's destiny, without us and that is the way it should be. What will it take to teach us to keep our noses out? A mass slaughter of the advisers left behind?

    December 21, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • Brian Smith

      Whoever said they were advisors? They are civilian mercenaries, killers for hire, spies, and puppet masters.

      December 21, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
  14. mark

    why are we trying to fix what doesnt want to be fixed while our country and citizens suffers. what possitive has happened to us since this war started

    December 21, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Tatiana

      Ron Paul slaps down these CFR,IMF puppets .Money, cortlons these GOP puppets .He's the only man up there that is not afraid of the Washington machine,same groups that was wrong about Iraq, killed close to a million people, most were innocent people .The money machine just needs to keep the lies going, and fool the world .They create conflicts for profit,and enslave the people thru debt and taxes.Its simply world traders, investors, and banks,even the Fed Reserve, READ HISTORY

      May 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  15. Bill Clay

    They are going to start fighting among themselves as soon as we leave, whether we spend 10 years there or 50 years. We can't babysit them forever. It's their country and their future. Let them fight it, just like we did during our Civil War.

    December 21, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Mike

      After 1300 years of fighting, I doubt even a 100 years of supervision will make a difference once they are left along together.

      December 21, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  16. Razz

    I don't see this as a failure at all. We can't hold their hand forever. If they decide to continue fighting their religious war that's there problem.

    December 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  17. Kevin Cantu

    Not our problem anymore. Let the U.N. Handle since they have such a SOLID reputation at preventing genocide and the like...>>...<>

    December 21, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  18. asdf

    Mission accomplished!!! What a decade long fail spanning the two worst presidents in American history.

    December 21, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  19. geesam47

    I can hear the bugel calls of different sides in Iraq. Whatever happens both sides may fight within and ouside the American "neighborhoods". This time nobody weill call in gthe Marines. Didn't anybody think these battles would start again?

    December 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm |

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