The US Department of Defense is considering moving the main architect of a troop “surge” strategy, General David Petraeus, out of Iraq and giving him a top NATO command job, The New York Times reported on its website late Sunday.
Citing an unnamed senior Pentagon official, the newspaper said the department was weighing “a next assignment for Petraeus,” now the top US military commander in Iraq, and that the job of NATO supreme commander was a possibility.
“He deserves one and that has also always been a highly prestigious position,” the report quotes the official as saying. “So he is a candidate for that job, but there have been no final decisions and nothing on the timing.”
Petraeus listed the type of weapons he said Iran was supplying to militias in Iraq.
He said this comprised advanced rocket-propelled grenades, shoulder-fired “Stinger-like” air defense missiles and 240mm rockets. This was in addition to components used to make explosively formed projectiles (EFPs), a particularly deadly roadside bomb that has killed hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq.
Petraeus also suggested there was an Iranian link in the assassination of two provincial governors in southern Iraq in August. Both were killed by roadside bombs.
“They are implicated in the assassination of some governors in the southern provinces,” said Petraeus.
FORWARD OPERATING BASE CALDWELL, Iraq (CNN) — Although America’s top general in Iraq called al Qaeda “the wolf closest to the sled,” he said sectarian fighting among militias fueled by Iran could be the biggest long-term challenge for Iraq.
Petraeus says Iran must prove it is no longer supplying weapons to Iraq militias.
He said he is in a “show-me mode,” waiting to see if Iran honors a pledge to stop the flow of arms, money and training from Iran into Iraq that has helped both Shiite and Sunni militants.
“Al Qaeda remains the wolf closest to the sled, if you will. The enemy that is always bent on reigniting sectarian violence, causing the most horrific casualties, damaging the infrastructure in the most difficult way. So you cannot lose focus on al Qaeda.”
But, Petraeus added, there was “no question” that Iranian arms were ending up in the hands of the Iraqi militias and there was “no debate” that six Iranians detained by the U.S. military in northern Iraq are Iranian Quds force members, the Iranian unit accused by the United States of training and arming insurgents.