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Got to get straight to the Pentagon now.
Two Jennifer Griffin where.
We gonna talk about it the anti American Shiite cleric Muqtada Al -- I'm heading back to Iraq now way he was the Bane of the Americans.
For some time that -- what's the reaction of the Pentagon about -- he's been in Iran and believe.
That's right -- it's it is fastening a fascinating story and it actually relevant to what is going on in Lebanon today with Hezbollah bringing down the government there.
We've just heard that.
Prime minister Saad Hariri is on route back to Lebanon he was meeting with President Obama when he got word that has -- had pulled out of his government essentially collapsed this government.
Let me tell you about let's cut off sauter.
The Iraqi cleric who is of course the head of the Mahdi Army that gave that US troops so much trouble back in 2004 he's been in self imposed exile for.
Much of the last four years in a -- Iran he's been studying with clerics there he essentially.
Left erect at left Iraq because he thought the US the US military had a warrant out for the rest now the US military.
Essentially can't arrest him because they're leaving at the end of this year they don't have those powers anymore.
And and says -- returned on January 5.
Back to their -- was given a hero's welcome there.
He you know he must be leading enemy of the US military forces.
During this surge period his Mahdi Army gave the US military a hard time but what's interesting is I've had conversations with some.
Former top US military commanders in Iraq who say that they've been working on trying to get Muqtada off -- Back to Iraq for much of the last year.
They feel that he'll be much less of a danger to the Iraqi Government if he's inside Iraq as opposed under the influence inside Iran but there are others who argued that.
The damage has already been done he's already been studying with top Iranian clerics including the clerics who who are the clerics to.
He's already well under Iranian influence and he could play the same sort of proxy spoiler role that has a lot plays in Lebanon.
And that it.
Prime minister -- -- in Iraq couldn't have formed his current government without -- help.
-- is now a kingmaker in Iraq and he is.
He after last four years of being in Iran is still under Iranian influence and.
-- it's it's been a fairly loans self imposed exile.
And do American officials really believe he will return with the same how -- he seemed to have or have things moved forward and off in Iraq that while he's still going to be a central figure obviously he will necessarily come on the sort of power and fighting -- -- -- that.
It's a great question and US military commanders that I spoke to have a lot of experience out in Iraq and with -- himself.
Say that they think he has lost a lot of his prestige and his power down in the Boston area and in southern.
-- southern Iraq.
However he was given quite a -- come in knocked up which is the spiritual home of where he is from where his father served as a spiritual leader.
He still has some influence in that -- -- suburbs of Sadr City.
In -- in a Baghdad where he has a lot of popularity among the -- but again it will his Mahdi Army which has been renamed now.
Will it -- be able what will he use violence it's doubtful it looks like he's being brought into the political umbrella at least that's the calculation of US.
-- military types as well as.
-- Maliki government but.
I think again Hezbollah provides a cautionary tale in the nearby Lebanon because yes Hezbollah -- was part of the government of Lebanon.
-- but it kept its army intact and it still poses a military threat not only to Lebanon internally.
But also to Israel.
And it it it it plays a strong political -- so Muqtada Al Sadr is still somebody to watch it's not clear I don't think that history has been written yet about whether.
He still has the power that he once did in terms of -- thanks in Iraq.
I a couple of other debts subjects who wanted to get to why have you -- if you don't mind -- -- -- -- the unfolding crisis in Lebanon today the resignation of the Hezbollah.
Members of that government collapse of the government that.
How worried are.
Officials at the Pentagon about what is going on in Lebanon.
Well I haven't had a chance to talk to anybody senior at the Pentagon about what's going on in Lebanon but I can tell you just having.
Lived in in Israel -- -- years and covered the that very spasms of violence between Lebanon and Israel as well as a bit you know I was and in -- on shortly after Rafik Hariri the prime minister's father was killed.
A few years back so.
Essentially there will be a great deal of concern at the State Department and here in the Pentagon as well as in Tel Aviv.
About what has -- is what -- -- what -- Hezbollah is playing in Lebanon bringing down the government of Saad Hariri is essentially.
The reason that Hezbollah -- right now don't forget has -- main patron is Iran and also Syria.
Is that the UN is about to issue a report about who killed Rafik Hariri the former prime minister of Lebanon.
And in that report we understand that there will be some blame attributed an even some finger pointing as to Hezbollah officials who may have been involved in that killing.
That's why -- creating the sideshow right now bringing down the government and there's no guarantee that Hezbollah won't use some of its many.
Missiles and rockets in southern Lebanon which you know as Hezbollah was never disarmed after the after the war with Israel four years ago.
And so it still has missiles there's no guarantee that it won't get fire this missiles at Israel in order again it to divert attention away from this.
Very damning UN report on -- Rafik carry -- Aires killing so it's all interrelated.
And -- it really deserves.
A lot of attention right now because it could be a spark that that sets off a larger conflict in the Middle East.
Clearly a situation we need to watch very closely -- and one other thing Vice President Biden in Pakistani today.
-- one would imagine trying to put pressure on the Pakistani leadership.
To clamp down on the militants who -- flooding across the border into Afghanistan.
Carrying out attacks that I'm -- can now and what does the US want to do to try to make pockets Don.
More of a reliable and indeed a more stable ally.
Well I think that's the open question in Washington and open debate in policy circles.
On the one hand there's this recognition that Pakistan is the key to success in Afghanistan and and in in the key to US troops being able to leave Afghanistan.
The problem is nobody has been able to come up with.
And that correct carrot and stick approach with with the pakistanis I spoke to Bruce Riddell who is a former CIA officer for thirty years and it was the leading.
Was basically bill that the personnel at the Brookings Institution who was put in charge of president Obama's.
Strategy review for Pakistan when he came and top took.
Came into office in 2009 and Bruce -- last week.
-- said that his advice would be.
To go ahead with the Lugar carry bill that provides.
And you know it decades and and multi millions of dollars of aid to Pakistan's civilian government.
It's civilians civilian aid package that is this long term and will suggest to Pakistan that we are going to be.
In a long term friendship with them we're not gonna leave when US troops pull out if yes -- -- troops pull out in 2014.
It will create some confidence but at the same time he said that we need to start putting.
Putting the -- that's the intelligence services Pakistan intelligence services officers and army generals who are found to be.
Involved in supporting the Taliban we need to put them on a terrorist -- and freeze their assets overseas so he's suggesting a carrot and stick approach.
It's not clear yet what the Obama administration.
Is it is going to do with regards to Pakistan but Biden being in Pakistan after visiting Afghanistan.
-- certainly suggest the important role Pakistan plays but I haven't seen any indication that this administration has a coherent policy in terms of Pakistan at this point.
OK Jen thanks for -- great insights on so many has such a range of subjects has always.
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