Reports of intelligence sharing between the Iraqi government and Russia have raised concerns by the U.S. Defense Department that U.S. secrets could be vulnerable. Russian cyber security breaches of U.S. government systems gives credence to those fears, and Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work confirmed that the nature of the communications between Iraq and Russia is currently unknown.
The Syrian government joined Iraq and Russia in creating the intelligence sharing agreement, which holds ISIS terrorism as its main reason for existence. Defense Secretary Work commented on the news, “We were caught by surprise that Iraq entered into this agreement with Syria, Iran and Russia. Obviously, we are not going to share intelligence with either Syria, or Russia, or Iran.
So we are in the process of working to try and find out exactly what Iraq has said. Certainly we are not going to provide any classified information that would help those actors on the battlefield.”
The U.S. fears that Syria is another theater for Russia’s expansion of power in the region, just as it demonstrated in Ukraine, with the new agreement as a means to that end. Any claims of Russian assistance against the ISIS threat are what Director of National Intelligence James Clapper describes as, “a belated motivation.”
The Congressional appropriation in 2015 of $1.6 billion worth of training and equipment to the Iraqi military included sensitive equipment and techniques for improvised explosive device detection. The dissemination of that information between Iraq, Syria, and Russia could raise the likelihood of its compromise by extremist groups like ISIS, allowing them to improve their bomb-making capabilities.
The presence of over 3,500 U.S. troops within Iraq is another point of concern.
The U.S. continues to proclaim its desire to “deconflict” Iraq and Syria, its main motivation being the avoidance of a direct conflict between Russia and the U.S., as the two nations pursue their own ends in the region.