Progress is being made in dealing with the security situation in Iraq, says the commander of the multinational force there, U.S. Army General David Petraeus:
"Coalition and Iraqi forces have dealt significant blows to al-Qaida Iraq. Though al-Qaida and its affiliates remain dangerous, we have taken away a number of their sanctuaries and gained the initiative in many areas. We have also disrupted Shiite militia extremists, capturing the head and numerous other leaders of the Iranian-supported Special Groups, along with a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative supporting Iran's activities in Iraq."
This progress has been made possible by the thirty thousand additional U.S. troops sent to Iraq earlier this year. Continuing to reduce the levels of violence and of Iraqi civilian deaths will mean countering Iran's interference in Iraq. General Petraeus says the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force is training, arming, funding, and, in some cases, directing extremist Shiite militias in Iraq. Those militias, he says, are a source of instability in the country:
"These elements have assassinated and kidnapped Iraqi governmental leaders, killed and wounded our soldiers with advanced explosive devices provided by Iran, and indiscriminately rocketed civilians in the International Zone and elsewhere. It is increasingly apparent to both coalition and Iraqi leaders that Iran, through the use of the Quds force, seeks to turn the Iraqi Special Groups into a Hezbollah-like force to serve its interests and fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq."
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker says that if the United States were to withdraw precipitously from Iraq, chaos and massive human suffering would follow:
"The Iranian president [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] has already announced that Iran will fill any vacuum in Iraq. In such an environment, the gains made against al-Qaida and other extremist groups could easily evaporate."
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker says that "a secure, stable democratic Iraq at peace with its neighbors is attainable," but only with "substantial U.S. resolve and commitment."