Iran Seen as Root Threat in Region; Retired Officers Urge U.S. to Act

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Byline: Rachel Kaufman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A number of retired military officers are warning the United States to forcibly deal with Iran's interference in Iraq, which they think is the underlying cause of Iraq's difficulty in establishing a functional democracy.

The retired officers, many of them supporters of the surge strategy in Iraq, said at a conference sponsored by the Iran Policy Committee last week that they see Iran as the primary threat to U.S. goals in the region.

Iran provides money, weapons, training, safe havens and ideological support to the Iraqi militants, thus, "fueling those fires from the outside," said retired Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely, who co-authored "Baghdad Ablaze: How to Extinguish the Fires in Iraq."

Gen. Vallely argued Iran effectively combines ideology, politics and military operations, extending its influence not only to Iraq, but also to the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Venezuela.

Also speaking at the conference, which marked the sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney recommended that the war on terrorism be renamed the "war on radical Islam."

Radical Islam, he said, is "driven by al Qaeda and Iran. Iran is the No. 1 perpetrator of terror in the region today. ... So it is extremely important that we address Iran"

Iyad Jamal al-Deen, deputy chairman of the Iraqi parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, also cited Iran as a source of sectarian tensions in Iraq. …