U.S. intelligence agencies warned that security gains in Iraq could degenerate into sectarian violence after a troop pullout that some officials say left the United States with little leverage in a country it occupied for nearly nine years.
A wave of bombings that killed at least 72 people in Baghdad on Thursday provided further evidence of a deteriorating security situation just days after the last U.S. troops left Iraq.
"This should be a surprise to no one that this is happening," said House of Representatives intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers.
"Most people believed, the assessments that were coming out believed, that the sudden rapid withdrawal with no troop presence on the ground was going to leave this vacuum that would be filled with the kind of problems that you're seeing," Rogers, a Republican, said in an interview with Reuters.
Rogers said the troop pullout reduced U.S. influence and that a chaotic Iraq plays into Iran's desire for increased influence in that region.
"There was plenty of advice and counsel and analytical product that said this was a bad idea and here's what's going to happen if you do it," he said. "We see the beginnings of what was predicted was going to happen."