Iraq Violence Down–But Will It Last?

The commander of American forces in the Middle East claims there has been a dramatic decrease in Iraq violence but warned it m ight not be permanent. Admiral William Fallon told members of Congress, “In almost every measure, the security situation has improved significantly.” But, “multiple strains of violent extremism remains a threat to the government and population and some of these groups benefit from external support.” He emphasized to Congress, although General Peraeus will make recommendations in the coming months, there will also be the voices of others who have expertise and experience in Iraq. In his testimony Fallon blamed Iran and Syria for aiding extremist elements. Both are giving support to Hizbullah and Hamas.

The Admiral’s comments came as President Ahmadenijad was visiting Baghdad where he is being welcomed by the Iraq government. On one hand, the United States insists Iran is a destabilizing force in Iraq, on the other hand, the Iraq government welcomes their support. In fact, Iran signed an agreement with Iraq to improve municipal services in Baghdad.

Admiral Fallon failed to clarify the underlying causes for violence in Iraq which stem from the Sunni-Shiite divide. There are reports indicating rising tension from Sunnis who are blocked from positions of power in the Iraq government. It is not Iran which poses the greatest threat in Iraq but the Iraq government itself. Unless it reaches out to dissident groups within its own nation, violence may return to higher levels.