New WikiLeaks disclosures tell of Iran’s hand in Iraqi politics
Iran continues to dominate WikiLeaks disclosures, with new releases from Baghdad and Beirut showing concerns about Iranian meddling in Iraqi politics as well as the establishment of a nationwide fiber-optic network by its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah.
The disclosures come on the heels of the initial wave of WikiLeaks releases, in which several Arab leaders were quoted voicing their fears about Iran’s growing regional clout and — in some cases — advocating U.S. military action to stop its nuclear program.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dismissed the leaks as a U.S.-orchestrated campaign of “psychological warfare” against the Islamic republic.
At a regional security conference in Bahrain on Saturday, however, Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki sought to allay regional concerns, saying “our power in the region is your power” and repeating Tehran’s denials that its nuclear program is aimed at producing an atomic arsenal.
In the newly released cables, both Nouri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi — the current and former Iraqi prime ministers, respectively — are quoted as expressing grave concerns about Tehran’s meddling in Iraqi politics in the run-up to the country’s March 7 elections.
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“In a September 22 meeting,” says a secret 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, “Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told the Ambassador that Iran is intervening increasingly boldly in the Iraqi political process in a bid to ‘control the COR‘ [the Council of Representatives, the Iraqi Parliament]. Iran has not discarded use of military means to attain its objectives, Maliki said, but for now it is focusing on political means.”
Mr. Maliki was quoted as saying that the lynchpin of Iranian political efforts — brokering a pre-election alliance between the two major Shiite blocs — had been dealt a “fatal blow” by his Dawa Party’s decision to proceed on its own path under the umbrella of the prime minister’s less sectarian State of Law coalition.
“Maliki’s comments regarding Iranian involvement in internal Iraqi affairs are the strongest we have heard,” the cable says.
According to another Baghdad cable, from Feb. 4 of this year, “[Former Prime Minister Ayad] Allawi noted that he stressed the danger of disproportionate Iranian interference and influence in Iraq during his recent meetings with Egyptian, Saudi and Emirati leaders, and asked those Arab states to engage more closely with Iraq.”
Mr. Allawi, a secular Shiite whose Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc won the most votes in the country’s March 7 elections, was outmaneuvered for the premiership by Mr. Maliki after the incumbent’s postelection alliance with the same Iranian-backed elements whose partnership he had eschewed before the vote.
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