The CIA is reportedly planning to cut the number of personnel in Iraq to 40% of what it had at the height of the Iraq war, when Baghdad was the headquarters of the largest CIA station in the world. At that time, there were more than 700 members of the CIA there.
Supporters of the change say that the CIA is needed more in countries, such as Yemen and Mali.
One official said, “This is what success is supposed to be like … of course we don’t want to have the same number of people after all U.S. troops go home that we had at the height of the war.”
Another spoke of the relationship between President Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki; they have “made very clear that we’re going to continue to have a close and strong security partnership”.
Others have concerns over the continued presence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, while one senior Iraqi security official said that the Iraqis’ surveillance is not as thorough as the Americans’.
In addition, he warned that Iraq’s sectarian differences make it difficult to do intelligence work: “We need the Americans because they were able to work with all the [Iraqi] forces without exception,” he said.
Seth Jones, a Rand Corporation counter-terrorism specialist who is an expert on Al Qaeda, said:
“A further diplomatic or intelligence draw down in Iraq could jeopardize U.S. national security down the road if al Qaeda in Iraq is able to sustain—or increase—its activity. The concern is that al Qaeda is able to use its Iraq branch to destabilize other countries in the region, and they are able to facilitate the movement of foreign fighters.“
(Source: Wall Street Journal)