Negroponte: Iraq could pose permanent threat

The conflict unfolding in Iraq could pose a permanent terrorist threat to the United States and other nations if its spreads to multiple countries, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte said. 

As Islamic militants with the group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria attempted to overrun a number of large cities in Iraq, Negroponte described the situation as moving toward a regional civil war. 

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"Well it is moving in that direction and that is what has to be stopped because ... if these people succeed in multiple countries, that is going to represent some kind of permanent terrorist threat to the West, to our interests around the world and to ourselves," he said on MSNBC. 

The Iraq government requested U.S. air strikes in some extremist regions last month, but the Obama administration has so far declined, according to The New York Times

Negroponte said if he were advising the president, he would tell Obama to seriously consider all requests and consult with neighbors in the region, noting it is not the problem of the United States alone. 

"I would consider seriously any requests for assistance the government of Iraq makes. I would consult with all the other regional friends we have," he said. 

Negroponte is a former director of national intelligence and served as an ambassador to Iraq under the George W. Bush administration from 2004-2005. 

The United States withdrew the last of its troops from Iraq in 2011. Negroponte said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki likely regrets not finalizing a security agreement with the United States to leave some U.S. troops in the country after the U.S. combat mission ended, similar to the one being negotiated in Afghanistan. He said it would have likely made a "significant difference."