May 03, 2008

Iraqi Delegation Presents Its Case

Reuters has a good article on the Iraqi delegation sent to Iran to present evidence of Iranian security services' involvement in training and arming Shia militants involved in recent clashes in Basra and Sadr City. We'll see what the Iranian response is, but the story touches on some themes Dr. iRack has highlighted over the past couple of weeks.

An Iraqi delegation in Iran has confronted Iranian security officials with evidence that Tehran is providing support for Shi'ite militias battling Iraqi government forces, an Iraqi official said on Friday.

"They presented a list of names, training camps and cells linked to Iran," Haidar al-Ibadi, a member of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa party, told Reuters.

"The Iranians did not confess or admit anything. They claim they are not intervening in Iraq and they feel they are being unfairly blamed for everything going on Iraq," he said of the talks, which took place on Thursday.


Iran's official IRNA news agency said Tehran wanted to help end fighting in its neighbor and welcomed the opportunity offered by the delegation's visit.

"Iranian officials will be holding talks with the delegation with a view to helping resolve the differences and clashes in Iraq," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini was quoted late on Thursday as saying.

"Tehran has generally emphasized stability and security in Iraq and the invitation to the Iraqi delegation has been for this goal, and Iran's past measures has been to bring stability and security in Iraq," he said without giving more details.

Analysts say Tehran wants to keep a friendly, Shi'ite-led government in charge but wants to ensure rival Iraqi Shi'ite factions look to the Islamic Republic as a power broker.

They also say Iran wants a stable Iraq, after fighting a bloody war with its neighbor in the 1980s. But at the same time Iran does not want to give its long-time foe, the United States, an easy ride lest it considers military action in its row with Tehran.

Stay tuned.