World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Gen. Petraeus Praises Syria, Not Sure About Iran

By Al Pessin

Petraeus Has Rare Praise for Syria, Not Sure About Iran

The top coalition commander in Iraq had some positive things to say Thursday about Syria and other countries and factions that have contributed to instability in Iraq in the past. But U.S. General David Petraeus says it is not yet clear whether Iran has also changed its policy, and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates agrees.

General Petraeus told reporters in Baghdad the surge of U.S. troops and progress by Iraqi security forces have helped reduce violence in Iraq by 60 percent in the last six months, to the lowest level in nearly two years. But he says there have also been other factors.

"Iraq has also been helped by more aggressive action by foreign-fighter source countries and by Syria, which has taken steps to reduce the flow of foreign fighters through its borders with Iraq. Another important factor has of course been the cease fire declared by Muqtada-al Sadr," he said.

The Iraqi Shi'ite leader declared a cease-fire, and General Petraeus says he has been purging criminal elements from his militia.

But the general was more cautious in assessing Iran's role in Iraq. U.S. officials say Iran has provided high-powered explosives, training and money to Iraqi insurgents known as "special groups," and even sent agents to Iraq to plan and supervise attacks on coalition forces. But top Iranian leaders recently promised Iraqi leaders they would not do anything to contribute to instability in Iraq. And General Petraeus reports a reduction in the use of bombs and weapons supplied by Iran. But he could not say whether that reduction is linked to Iranian government action.

"We look forward to all elements of the Iranian government following the promises, making real the promises that Iran's senior leaders have made to their Iraqi counterparts to stop the training, funding, arming and directing of organizations like the special groups," he said.

Speaking shortly after ending a two-day visit to Iraq, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also said it is not clear whether Iran is living up to its promise.

"Based on my talks with everyone, including General Petraeus, I think that that's still an open question," he said. "They clearly have made some commitments to the government of Iraq. And I think we're waiting to see. I think it's a little too soon to tell."

Secretary Gates spoke in Bahrain, where he arrived Thursday for a regional security meeting involving 50 countries, including Iran. He says he does not expect to have direct talks with any Iranian officials, but that "Iranian behavior in a number of areas will clearly come up" during the meetings.

Assessing the situation in Iraq based on his visit, Secretary Gates said the key now is to build on the improved security through political progress. He says Iraqis are getting "impatient," and Iraq's top leaders, who he met with on Wednesday, know what they have to do on key issues like oil revenue sharing and easing de-Baathification.

General Petraeus said success in Iraq will not be smooth, but rather will emerge "slowly and fitfully, with reverses as well as advances."

"There will inevitability still be tough days, and perhaps tough weeks, ahead, but fewer of them over time, Inshallah [God willing]," he said.

General Petraeus called the security progress in some areas "fragile," and said he is not ready to talk about "turning corners," "seeing lights at the ends of tunnels" or "doing victory dances."


More: Latest World News | Top World News | World Digest | Archives

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news