Analysis

CIA Takes Control of Elite Iraqi Unit in Major Policy Shift
National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research Philip Goldberg testify at a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 12, 2013. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
March 26, 2013
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa
Summary
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An elite Iraqi counter-terror group that was long directed by the Pentagon is now run by the CIA, signifying a critical change in American strategy in fighting terror in the Middle East. Granting the CIA more responsibility for the anti-terror mission in Iraq has immediate political advantages for both American and Iraqi policy makers, but it is not without shortcomings.
The White House wrested control of Iraq’s Counterterrorism Service (CTS) from the Department of Defense late last year to align with troop withdrawal goals. Now the CIA has a bigger and sometimes more confusing mission with fewer resources and personnel to counter al-Qaeda in Iraq and contain the civil war in Syria.
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