US general warns of consequences of marginalizing Sunnis, Kurds

The head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart warned of dire consequences should Baghdad be unable or unwilling to reach an understanding with the Kurds or the Sunnis, Reuters reported.

He said an Iraqi Kurdish push for independence from Baghdad appears likely to be a question of "not if but when," in a significant challenge to Iraq's stability.

"Failure to address those challenges, coming up with a political solution, will ultimately result in conflict among all of the parties to resolve this and going back to what could devolve into a civil strife in Iraq," he said.

The DIA's director, Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, told a Senate hearing that the ability of Iraq's Kurds to reach an understanding with the Shi'ite-dominated government in Baghdad would be essential to avoid renewed conflict.