What keeps U.S. spies awake at night? Iran. Al Qaeda. The bickering of Iraqi politicians.
With the United States officially ending its combat role in Iraq, one senior American spy said he was more worried about the lack of political reconciliation in Baghdad than whether Iran gets more meddlesome in Iraq or al Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate makes a new, violent push there.
“I’m more concerned about the internal (Iraqi) situation than Iranian influence or the long arm of al Qaeda, which really doesn’t exist,” the senior intelligence official told reporters. He asked not to be named (as spies do).
Tehran could be expected to try to influence Iraq, because that has been its attitude historically, he noted.
As for Al Qaeda in Iraq, it has been “substantially degraded.” It has only about 10 percent of the manpower that it had at its peak in 2006 and 2007. And it is only “loosely” affiliated with al Qaeda elements outside the country, he said.