"... "We're very concerned about Iran and the weapons they're providing to extremists in Iraq," Panetta said, on a visit to U.S. troops in Baghdad Monday, the AP's Robert Burns reports."We cannot simply stand back and allow this to continue to happen," he said. "This is not something we're going to walk away from. It's something we're going to take on head-on."
The United States will act unilaterally "to go after those threats," Panetta, the former CIA chief and lawmaker, said. Iran has become increasingly brazen in leaving its fingerprints on weapons provided to Shiite extremist groups in Iraq, the top U.S. civilian and military envoys in Iraq have recently charged...."
"Iraq’s fragile coalition government failed again Saturday to reach agreement on the formation of a cabinet or on whether to ask some U.S. forces to remain beyond December — leaving the Obama administration with an ever-shorter timetable to complete the withdrawal or manage the political fallout from staying.
President Jalal Talabani, who had called political blocs together for the second time in recent weeks, said he gave all parties another two weeks to discuss the issues before reconvening.
Although the administration has informally suggested some numbers, indicating that leaving 10,000 U.S. troops behind — out of the 46,000 still there — might be reasonable, such estimates remain “guesswork,” a senior U.S. military official said...
Administration officials said that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been telling some of his own officials that President Obama wants to leave as many as 30,000 troops in Iraq, a figure the White House dismisses as wildly high.“Any post-2011 troop presence is going to be significantly smaller than what we have there now,” an administration official said..."
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian