Gen. Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, said today that Al Qaeda is a diminished threat and that Iran has moved away from instigating violence. But he also said that Iraqi Shiite militants who trained in Iran are planning a major attack.
General Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, said in a Monitor interview that US and Iraqi forces have broken large Al Qaeda in Iraq rings that extorted millions of dollars a year from companies.
Iraqi Army is being credited for finding and killing two top figures with Al Qaeda in Iraq, including leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri.
Iraq said Monday it had killed Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, allegedly two of the most senior members of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The US said DNA testing had confirmed their deaths.
Ahead of the March 7 Iraq election, Ahmed Chalabi, who helped convince former President Bush to invade and create a democracy at peace with Israel, is promoting a regional alliance that would include US adversary Iran.
Ahead of the March 7 Iraq election, tensions between Arabs and Kurds are soaring after an incident involving Kurdish troops and forces loyal to the Arab governor of Ninevah. Kurdish President Massoud Barzani told the Monitor that a warrant will soon be issued for the governor's arrest on a kidnapping charge.
Abu Mahdi al Mohandas is one of more than 6,000 candidates on the ballot in the Iraqi elections on March 7. But the Shiite politician, now hiding in Iran, says the US considers him a terrorist and a weapons supplier to Iraq militia groups.
Just two weeks before crucial Iraq parliamentary elections and amid a dispute over the disqualifications of some candidates with ties to Saddam Hussein's banned Baath party, a suicide bomber killed 11 in Anbar Province. Some in Iraq are worried that the controversial disqualifications are heightening tensions.
On the second consecutive day of major suicide bombings in Iraq, top US Gen. Raymond Odierno says Al Qaeda in Iraq had changed focus in the past six months.
Iraq elections can now go forward after Kurds and Sunnis agreed to a new, amended law. Obama's 11th-hour call Sunday night was part of a crucial US role in sealing the deal.