WAR

Could Iraq Deadline Boost al-Qaeda?

The Iraq War and the war on terror continue to be linked. In his first British interview since taking over General Petraeus' old job, Army General Ray Odierno said the military may need to ignore Obama's Iraq withdrawal deadline if we are to keep al-Qaeda at bay. The president has promised a complete removal of combat troops by August 2010, in part to help shift America's military focus to Afghanistan; the final decision on keeping or rejecting US troops will lie with Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But Odierno says that new conflict in Iraqi Kurdistan and threats from Iranian militants lead him to believe the nation remains in a critical state. Odierno—who long directed day-to-day combat missions and whose son lost an arm in Iraq—said the cities of Mosul and Baqubah are most at risk for al-Qaeda resurgence. This comment—particularly in a British forum—holds particular sway on the heels of the announcement that authorities narrowly defeated an al-Qaeda operation aimed at killing Brits on Easter Sunday. Of military operations in Iraq, Odierno said, "We can't allow politics, we can't allow pride, we can't allow ego to cause violence to occur when you can solve a problem with dialogue."