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IRAQ: Iran debate heats up as testimony day approaches

Iran's role in Iraq is going to be a huge question and topic of debate this coming week. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Gen. David Petraeus, head of the military mission in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, head of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, will speak before Congress about the situation in Iraq.

An advisor to Iraq's main Shiite political party told an Iranian news service that Tehran played a key positive role in brokering the peace between rival Shiite factions last weekend.

And in what can be construed as the first semi-official Iranian acknowledgment of the role, Tehran's state-controlled English-language daily carried the report in today's edition.

MohsenMohsen Hakim, a political advisor to the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, told Iran's Mehr News Agency that Tehran laid the groundwork for the end to the fighting between the government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and militiamen loyal to cleric Muqtada Sadr. He said that an Iraqi delegation led by lawmaker Ali Adeeb held talks with Iranian officials during a Friday, March 28, visit to Tehran.

Here's Hakim:

Tehran used its positive influence (on the Iraqi nation) to prepare the ground for returning peace to Iraq, and the new situation is the result of Iran’s efforts.

So will Crocker and Petraeus give Iran plaudits for helping bring peace to Iraq when they testify before Congress? Not likely.

Crocker A couple days ago, Crocker spoke to reporters in Baghdad about Iranian involvement in Iraq. He said he couldn't say whether Iran brokered any deal:

I am pretty modest about what I say I know about the Iranians.  I mean, I have not been in Iran for decades.  It is an extremely complicated place.  So, I can't tell you whether the Iranians were instrumental in bringing about the position that, as I said, Muqtada took, or whether they just didn't stop him from doing it.  I just really don't know.

Instead, he accused Iran of being behind the incessant barrages of rockets and mortars that land on the U.S.-protected Green Zone, the administrative headquarters of Baghdad:

[It's] very clear to us here, because we got the fins of — the tail fins of what was dropping on us, very clear to the prime minister down in Basra, because they were dropping on him, too.  And this was, quite literally, made in Iran.  All of this stuff was out of Iran, and a lot of it, you know, manufactured in 2007.

And he went further, speculating that perhaps Sadr called for a peace in spite of what the Iranians wanted:

You do wonder if, when Iranian munitions start flying all over the place, launched by elements that, at least in name, imply a connection to the whole Sadr movement, you wonder if that [Sadr] movement, in its political dimensions, doesn't get pretty uncomfortable, and say, "I don't want to go there."

Petraeus_3Petraeus, too, has been ramping up the rhetoric on Iran. In an interview with the BBC late last month, he also accused Iran of being behind the recent attacks on the Green Zone:

The rockets that were launched at the Green Zone yesterday, for example... were Iranian-provided, Iranian-made rockets. All of this in complete violation of promises made by President Ahmadinejad and the other most senior Iranian leaders to their Iraqi counterparts.

Some see a significant shift in such remarks, indicating the imminence of a tougher stance toward Iran. In an article citing unnamed British defense sources, the Daily Telegraph reports today of fears that the U.S. commander is going to use the hearings as a springboard for taking aggressive action against Iran.

Here's one British official, according to the London daily:

Petraeus is going to go very hard on Iran as the source of attacks on the American effort in Iraq. Iran is waging a war in Iraq. The idea that America can't fight a war on two fronts is wrong, there can be airstrikes and other moves. Petraeus has put emphasis on America having to fight the battle on behalf of Iraq. In his report he can frame it in terms of our soldiers killed and diplomats dead in attacks on the Green Zone.

Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

P.S. The Los Angeles Times issues a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, the war in Iraq and the confrontation between the West and Islam. You can subscribe by registering at the website here, logging in here and clicking on the World: Mideast newsletter box here.

Photos: From top, Mohsen Hakim (; Ambassador Ryan Crocker (AFP/Getty Images); and Gen. David Petraeus (AFP/Getty Images)

Comments () | Archives (11)

wavynavy: Is "Islamos" the new term for anyone who is Islamic? You're a racist plain and simple. Iran underwent a revolution in 1979. Remember? The people of Iran overthrew a dictator. Do you think they also declared war on the US at the same time? You're an idiot too! Shortly after that revolution, Iran was invaded by Iraq. Try to get the story straight in your head if possible.

Neither Iranians nor Iranian government are enemy to the Americans. This kind of rhetoric is made by Zionists and Arabs in order to prevent the two nations from getting closer.

Iranian government is enemy # One
Only by understanding this fact, every things else falls in place and the Iraq puzzle gets understood and solved.
Since 1979, Iranian government has pursued the roadmap to Israel. Phase one: to take over Iraq, Lebanon and eliminate Israel...(unfortunately, Iraq war created this opportunity for Iranian government)...then phase 2, 3, and ultimately eliminate US and dominate the world. Iranian government mediated between two terrorist rival pro-Iranian gangs(Sadr and Badr)fighting for more power in Iraq. Escalation of this fight was against Iranian government power in Iraq, specially since Iraqi people did not fall in this trap this time.

It is incredible how stupid the American leadership is! mind you calling the American government and Petraeus leaders is a contradiction in term!

The US Iran conflict is all to do with "cultural conflict"

American culture is guns, force, bombs, kill, destroy and demonstrate military power and might!

Iranian culture is friendship, talk, persuade, argue, never be slaved and demonstrate soft power and intellect!

Ironically, the day the US president demonstrates one single act of respect and humanity is the day Iran will reciprocate 10 folds in kind!

Clearly this is beyond the current American leaders at this time. Lets hope the next president will have more intellect to see this!

Iran's role in Iraq cannot be dismissed. Iranian Twelver Shia Islam's most sacred sites are found in the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala. Historically, the two nations of Iraq and Iran have been linked by shared religious traditions and culture. Iran, like the United States, seeks to expand its influence in the region. Bush dethroned the Taliban and Hussein, two enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Some could argue that by removing a secular Arab nationalist tyrant in Baghdad, we created a power vacuum in a major Arab country where someone has to replace the despot, and Iran has intentions of filling that vacuum with a pro-Iranian regime.

Without Iran portrayed as a bad man, US will not be able to sell ~50 billion dollars of new weapons to the Saudis and others. Without Iran portrayed as a bad man, US will not be able to deploy a Mission Defense Shield in Europe.... We must have a bad guy in this world in order to justify 690 billion dollars for defense budget EVERY YEAR.... that is 690 billion with capital B.

I am not surprised at the complete idiocy that reigns in these pages. Everyone here, get a grip!

The U.S. is winning in Iraq. We are killing the Islamo-fascists (by the thousands)! Remember those Islamic a$$holes who have been trying to disrupt out society since 1979?

And sadly we're not killing them fast enough. But read on about the war in your LA times and NY Times and be forever in dreamland.

You side is losing, and BIG time. Can't wait until General Petraeus tries to explain it to you simple-minded morons, once again.

Cant' wait until you come up with yet another excuse as to why the U.S. should not kick ass and take all the names, and never, ever forget September 11, 2001, or the rest of the crap the Islamos are trying to perpetrate.

Iran helped?

Enough of these apologists for America's enemies. It is entirely understandable to want to avoid war with Iran but the press needs to stop lying about their killing of Americans and their ill intentions towards American interests. They have openly declared the U.S. their enemy for 30 years. Pull your head out of the sand LA Times and the rest of the American left. The leaders of Iran are NOT our friends. Quit excusing and apologizing for their behavior. You are making absolute fools of yourselves, ruining your professions credibility and muddying the water with utter nonsense about our enemies intentions.

Again and again a repeated story about a will by president bush to attack Iran. president himself deny that will, Iran says it had violate no law, but Israel and UK officials and papers are full of speculations about an attack.
Israel mainly count seconds for such an attack, and push every body in US. UK repeat it's traditional role to make a blaze and gain from it - get to the rest of meat -.
Is president wise enough to see the consequences and not to follow that allies advise? Who benefit from any attck are not Iran or US. US would suffer even more than Iran, if you only think about reputation. Israel and UK are the main beneficiary. A weak US is more in their benefit than a strong and wise lion who dont need them.

USA should ask for Iran's help and listen to their concerns. It is not still late to talk to Iran and probably we can save innocent lives. The damage is already done by Bush and I hope he realizes the current atmosphere.

How lucky that Iran has mediated a truce between conflicting parties in Iraq., despite US efforts to divide and conquer. Its true that Iran has been never been a warmonger or invaded another country. Let us salute Iran as an area of civil stabilty and calm in an area surrounded by American wars of aggression


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