AC: "...the way out is a long, long way off."
ANDERSON COOPER: A bit more perspective now from CNN's Michael Ware, who is just in from Baghdad. And we're happy to have him here, safe and sound.
Michael, it's good to see you.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: What do you make of this, Saudi Arabia, essentially a threat, saying that they would, maybe, perhaps, could support Sunni insurgents?
WARE: Well, that's their natural position. They're not left with any other, really.
And come to the point that Saudi Arabia officially or unofficially is supporting the Sunni insurgents, then, Anderson, we're essentially in what General Abizaid says he most fears at the moment. After 3,000 deaths and 20,000 U.S. casualties, almost four years of war, he's worried about regional warfare.
So, by the time we see Saudi Arabia play that hand, it is going to be a terrible, terrible mess. And the great conundrum is that what's happening in Iraq, what the U.S. has been doing in Iraq, is destabilizing its allies in the region, mainly Sunni Arab nations. And it is emboldening one of America's primary enemies in the region, Iran.
COOPER: What do you make of the idea of sending more U.S. troops, and particularly to the Baghdad area, because, I mean, there are Iraqis now who are talking about are, well, U.S. troops actually leaving the Baghdad area, just being on the periphery?
WARE: Well, I know that has been floated by the national security adviser for Iraq, Dr. Mowaffak al-Rubaie.
However, you talk to U.S. commanders, and it seems clear to them, in their private, their frank moments, that what's needed is more troops, not less, and not just a Band-Aid. I mean, we saw 2200 extra Marines go into Al Anbar Province, the very restive western province, which the U.S. military admits is essentially in the control of al Qaeda. And it had very little to no impact on the levels of violence.
So 10- 20- 30- even 50,000 troops doesn't even begin to get us there.
COOPER: Are you talking Iraq-wide or just in Baghdad? I mean, if you poured 40,000 troops into Baghdad or on the periphery of Baghdad, I guess the idea being secure Baghdad, and then move out from there.
WARE: Yeah, I mean, there's been this focus on Baghdad. As Baghdad goes, so will the rest of the country, is essentially the strategy.
My question is, while you focus on Baghdad, what's happening in al Qaeda-held al Anbar Province? While we just tread water out there, al Qaeda is getting stronger. And even in Baghdad, if you pour in more troops, it depends on their mandate. It depends on what's the role of the Iraqi security forces, many of whom, as we well know, are responsible for many of the killings.
COOPER: Are they getting any better? I mean, you know, everybody says that is the prime focus of U.S. policy. You go out with these guys all the time. Are they -- are they any better?
If -- if -- honestly, if the Iraqi security forces really are the way out for America, then the way out is a long, long way off. These guys are still not able to operate on their own. That's conceded by the military. They're still operating at levels far below combat-effective.
And, many of them, it's unclear what their alliances are. Certainly, it's not to a national government, as it would be for an American soldier. Their first alliance, by and large, is either to their sect, their militia, or their tribe.
So, in many ways, what we have been doing is training and arming the various sides of what could be a full-blown civil war.
COOPER: Wow. Troubling.
Michael Ware, appreciate you being here. Thanks very much.
Take some time off.