Sunday, June 22, 2014

Secret U.S. Plan to Aid Iraq Fizzled Amid Mutual Distrust

The Obama's Administration Devoted Only a Handful of U.S. Specialists to the Task

By Adam Entous, Julian E. Barnes and Siobhan Gorman, WSJ
Updated June 21, 2014 7:19 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON—Amid growing signs of instability in Iraq, President Barack Obama authorized a secret plan late last year to aid Iraqi troops in their fight against Sunni extremists by sharing intelligence on the militants' desert encampments, but devoted only a handful of U.S. specialists to the task.

So few aircraft were dedicated to the program, which also faced restrictions by the Iraqis, that U.S. surveillance flights usually took place just once a month, said current and former U.S. officials briefed on the program.

Instead of providing Iraqis with real-time drone feeds and intercepted communications from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, the militant group that has overrun parts of Iraq, U.S. intelligence specialists typically gave their Iraqi counterparts limited photographic images, reflecting U.S. concerns that more sensitive data would end up in Iranian hands, these officials said.

Overseas problems continue to weigh on President Obama as Iraq descends into disarray. Obama promised that no combat troops would be deployed in Iraq, but he has sent 300 military advisers to the region. The president now must decide whether to back Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, or demand a new leader.

(More here.)

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