As US withdrawal nears, Iraqi fear of Iran grows
Christian Science Monitor

Ramadi, Iraq

Iraqis remain deeply concerned about Iranian influence in their country five months before the US begins the massive drawdown of its troops from Iraq.

Next year, elections will be held in March, and the 112,000 American forces will shrink by more than half by the end of August. As that transition nears, Iraq has made significant progress toward greater security.

In the former center of the Sunni insurgency, for example, the governor of Anbar Province is most concerned about how to export cucumbers and obtain foreign investment, not security. Yet worries linger about how Iran might try to fill the void left by American forces.

Anbar Gov. Qasim al Fahadawi told Adm. Mike Mullen, America’s top military officer, that he wishes the Americans would delay their departure.

“When we go to sleep, we keep one eye open, just to be sure,” he told Mullen during Mullen’s swing through Iraq last week.

US shares Iraqis concerns

Mr. Fahadawi’s concerns aren’t necessarily unfounded. On Friday, Baghdad accused Tehran of taking part of a long-disputed oil field in Maysan Province in southeastern Iraq. And Anbar, which is mostly Sunni and still feels isolated from the Shiite government in Baghdad, remains concerned Iran will try to disrupt upcoming elections or work through the government to further shut out the country’s Sunni minority.

But with the clock ticking on withdrawal, there is little the US can ... >>>

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