By Bill Hoffmann and Melissa Clyne
The country of Iraq is, for all intents and purposes, dead and has been replaced by three successor states, former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden told Newsmax TV Wednesday.
“The state of Iraq as we know it is gone, and it’s not going to be reconstituted,” he told “The Steve Malzberg Show.”
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“It’s certainly not going to be reconstituted by [Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki.”
He said the only way out of the Iraq mess might be a science fiction-type scenario.
“[I’d] get in the way-back machine, go back three years and undo some incredibly unwise decisions that we made then. That’s really the nub of the issue,” he said.
“We’ve got three successor states there now,” Hayden, a retired four star Air Force general added. “As much as we might look for opportunities to keep Iraq together, we need to be prepared for the reality that it’s not going to stay together.
“We should snuggle up comfortable with the Kurds in Kurdistan, who have always been pro-American and actually have a functioning society and state right now. We should give help to the Maliki government, sufficient to settle the current conflict so it just doesn’t turn into a humanitarian disaster,” Hayden said.
“For example, there’s fighting around Beiji right now, the oil refinery north of Baghdad. Baghdad needs that for that part of the country to survive, and so we’ve got to settle the lines of this conflict in a way that Nouri al-Maliki’s surviving state, which I’ll call Shiastan, has Beiji within it.
“Then we’ve got Sunnistan, and that’s the state under the control of ISIS right now, and frankly, we’ve got to treat that as if it were a safe haven for terrorists and begin to think about it the way we had thought about Waziristan for the last decade-plus. That’s a tough message, and I’m afraid that’s where we are.
“Now we’re at a point where we really don’t have good options,” Hayden told Malzberg.
Hayden said “Sunnistan” consists of western Iraq and eastern Syria. “There is no border now,” he said.
“This is all going to be very, very hard going forward, and we frankly may have to limit our objectives. In other words, seek to achieve things less than we would have thought to achieve had we made different decisions a few years back.”
In another Newsmax TV appearance on Wednesday, Hayden, who was also director of the National Security Agency, said intelligence, not the jurisdiction of a criminal trial, should be the key focus of the government as it pertains to Ahmed Abu Khatallah, suspected ringleader of the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
“Right now, he should be subject to intense intelligence interrogation,” Hayden told hosts J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on “America’s Forum.”
“Frankly, I’m a bit indifferent to what happens in the court case if and when that comes later. It’s a severable decision. Right now, intelligence. Get intelligence from this individual.”