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Fareed speaks with Robert Grenier, the CIA's Iraq mission manager from 2002 to 2004 and director of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center from 2004 to 2006, about Iraq’s future.
Robert, you've dealt with these people. Is it possible for the Sunnis of Iraq to trust the al-Maliki government, even if he did make some concessions, even if he did make some outreach? If you were a Sunni leader in Iraq – you've watched what Maliki has done for the last four or five years – are you going to buy it? Are you going to be willing to get in bed with him? It just feels to me like the prospect of national reconciliation, at this point, is remote.
I agree with that. I think it's going to be very, very important for a replacement to be found for Nuri al-Maliki. And I think it's very important for the Americans to be speaking quietly with the Iranians. You know, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq Jim Jeffrey has a very nice phrase for this. He says that the Iranian interest in Iraq is to keep the Sunnis down, the Kurds in and the Americans out. And right now, al-Maliki is not serving any of their agenda items.
I think that they will agree, once the current crisis has past, that this man needs to be replaced. I think we have to have a substantial presence on the ground to give us the influence that we need to work, again, indirectly, in conjunction with the Iranians who share some interests with us to make sure that there's a change of leadership in Baghdad.