Thursday, May 1, 2008

Talking With Iran (Updated)

General Petraeus had scheduled a briefing for Monday to make public the scale of Iran's proxy war against Iraq's central government and U.S. forces. That briefing was put aside at the request of the Maliki government who, after viewing the facts of the proposed brief, has sent a delegation to Iran in what amounts to a last chance effort to cause Iran to cease and desist without the necessity of force.


Iran finds itself in a unique position. Its standard playbook for increasing its influence in a region through a combination of terrorism, money, and the building of local militias loyal to Iran, a playbook that worked so well in several places, chief among them Gaza and Lebanon, is running into a roadblock in Iraq. Part of the roadblock is, of course, the presence of a U.S. Army in Iraq, but the largest part at the moment is an Iraqi central government that, though still far from full strength, is rapidly gaining in respect and popularity in Iraq. Iran has spent years now attempting to Lebanize Iraq. But when Maliki attacked Basra and started political and military paths to end militia influence in Iraq, that marked a turning point. Iran will not succeed if events keep to their current path, with the only remaining question being whether force will be used to make Iran end its proxy war.

This from Reuters today:

A delegation from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's ruling bloc has gone to Iran to press Tehran to stop backing Shi'ite militiamen, a senior member of parliament from the bloc said on Thursday.

"The UIA has decided to send a delegation to press the Iranian government to stop financing and supporting the armed groups," said Sami al-Askari, referring to the United Iraqi Alliance, which includes the main Shi'ite parties supporting Maliki. "They left yesterday for Iran."

Jalal al-Din al-Sagheer, another senior UIA member of parliament, said the delegation was sent after the "serious deterioration that has recently taken place in security in Iraq".

"The delegation will ask the government of Iran to continue to support the government of Maliki and continue to support stability in Iraq," he said, although he would not confirm that it would raise the issue of Iranian support for militias.

U.S. officials have long accused Iran of supplying rockets, advanced roadside bombs and training to Shi'ite fighters in Iraq. Iran has denied supporting militias, which profess loyalty to anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Iraq's Shi'ite-led government has said it wants good ties with Shi'ite Iran. Maliki launched a crackdown against Sadr's militia in late March that met fierce resistance from well-armed fighters, and he says he is determined to disarm them.

Major-General Qassim Moussawi, Iraqi spokesman for security in Baghdad, said at a news conference this week that Iraq had seized Iranian-made missiles and heavy weapons in the last four weeks in the capital.

U.S. officials say they have collected proof of Iranian weapons that have arrived recently in Iraq, but were holding off making a public display of their evidence so that Iraqis could make their case to Iran first.

"The Iraqis wish to first show what they have to the Iranian government before they show the world," an official travelling with U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Wednesday.

"First and foremost, it's an attempt to say: 'Hey, listen: we know what you are up to. This is not helpful. Cut it out!'"

On Wednesday the Iraqi Defence Ministry said it had put on display weapons, including rocket launchers, seized from Shi'ite militia fighters in the southern city of Basra.

"Some of the weapons were manufactured in 2008, which means they are being smuggled in without difficulty," the statement quoted Lieutenant-General Mohan al-Furaiji, commander of Iraqi forces in southern Iraq, . . .

Read the entire article.

Update: The meeting with the Mullahs occured over the weekend. This from the Washington Post:

. . . Haider al-Adari, a Shiite legislator from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa party and a member of the delegation, said in an telephone interview from Iran that the trip was "very successful" because Iran agreed to cooperate on putting an end to weapons smuggling and the training of militant groups. But he said Iran did not admit to playing a role in fomenting the violence.

"They have denied everything," Adari said Saturday. "But we clearly expressed our concern to them."

Read the enitre article.

1 comment:

Joanne said...

Talking with Iran is a waste of time, but at least Iraq will be able to state that they tried the route of talks and more talks to no avail.....then they can send Amanutjob to hell and back.