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Iranian Ambassador Speaks as if in Tehran Bazaar-Official | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Ezzat al-Shahbandar, a senior member of Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition, described the statements made by the new Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Danaifar, as being “tense and provocative.” Al-Shahbandar told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Iranian ambassador “is practicing a policy to silence Iraqi politicians by threatening to take legal action against any Iraqi politician who declares or talk s about Iranian interference in Iraqi internal affairs” and that he “speaks as if he is in a Tehran bazaar, and does not act like an ambassador; he must act with the highest level of diplomacy and know the limits of his position.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from Beirut via telephone, Ezzat al-Shahbandar criticized the position taken by the Iraqi government saying “I do not care about the statements made by the Iranian ambassador, and I would be happy if Iran truly did not interfere in Iraqi internal affairs, but what shocks me is the position of the government and the Iraqi politicians, as they did not issue any condemnation of these remarks other than a short statement by Shakir Kitab [Tajdid movement spokesman].”

Al-Shahbandar went on to say that “what shocks me even more than this is that the Iraqi government has remained silent in the face of this [Iranian ambassador’s statement], and that Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has not lifted a finger.” Al-Shahbandar said that he considers the statements and threats made by the new Iranian ambassador to Iraq to be evidence that “Iran has begun to lose a lot of its sources of pressure on Iraqi politicians; this ambassador has come at a time of Iranian weakness within Iraq.”

Al-Shahbandar told Asharq Al-Awsat “we noticed that the National Iraqi Alliance that is led by the leader of the Supreme Council of Islam, Ammar al-Hakim, did not succumb to the pressure exerted by the Iranian officials to accept its proposal with regards to an alliance with al-Maliki, and as a result of this Tehran has punished the Supreme Council of Islam and stopped providing it with financial assistance, while the leader of the Sadrist trend, Moqtada al-Sadr, also did not succumb to the Iranian pressure, even though he resides in Qom, and he did not agree to the Iranian proposal to resolve the crisis with regards to [forming] the Iraqi government.”

He added that “the issue of Iranian intervention in Iraqi internal affairs does not require much evidence to confirm, as this interference is even greater than the US interference in Iraqi internal affairs, and this is what prompted the US two years ago to negotiate with Iranian parties in Baghdad to address the deteriorating conditions in Iraq; the Americans did not sit down with the Turks or the Syrians or other regional countries to discuss Iraqi affairs with them, and this [is evidence that] Iran is the major player in the equation with regards to Iraq’s internal affairs.”

Al-Shahbandar described the primary cause in the deadlock over the formation of the next government of Iraq as being “moral.” He told Asharq Al-Awsat “the Iraqi politicians do not have a sacred spirit with regards to putting the interests of the country and the people first, and there is a heated conflict over clinging to power, in addition to a crisis with regards the culture of democracy and the manner of dealing with (election) results.”