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Iraqi Government: “We Do Not Want to be Party to Washington-Tehran Conflict” | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq al-Awsat — The Iraqi Government has affirmed that there is a clear US position towards Iran and that this position does not necessarily reflect that of its government.

Maryam al-Rayyis, the Prime Minister’s adviser on foreign relations, said the Iraqi Government and people have deep respect for neighboring countries, including them Iran.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone to comment on the US accusations against Iran, Al-Rayyis said, “We should separate between the Iraqi Government’s stand toward Iran and the American one. The Iraqi Government does not want to be a party in the conflict between this and that country.” She added that the Iraqi constitution was clear about this through articles stipulating that Iraq would not be a door or an arena to conflicts between other countries. She noted however that the new security plan “is one for imposing the law” that stipulated “there will be no party exempted from this plan, including neighboring countries, if any of these countries proves to be involved in the Iraqi affair and undermining its security.” The prime minister’s adviser then said she was expecting the Iraqi Government’s comment on the American statements to be issued later.

On its part, representatives of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr denied receiving any backing or support from Iran. Nassar al-Rubay’i, the spokesman for Al-Sadr bloc in Iraq’s parliament, told Asharq al-Awsat by telephone that “As far as the matter concerns us, we are certain that we are not included in these American statements.” He asserted that the Al-Sadr group has no knowledge of any support that Iran gives to any party or armed group in Iraq. The US administration had accused Al-Mahdi Army, which is loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, of involvement in acts of violence and sectarian killings and also of being behind the kidnapping and killing of a number of civilians in addition to several Iraqi officials.

However, Kurdish Deputy Mahmud Uthman did not rule out Iran’s support for the Shiite militias in Iraq and said: “There is no doubt that Iran is backing the Shiite militias. They are bound together by old ties.” He explained however in a telephone contact with Asharq al-Awsat that the United States has its reasons for these statements, is in dispute with Iran, and “is pinning the reasons of its failure in Iraq on Iran, Syria, and the Iraqi Government.” Regarding the presence of sophisticated weapons that the armed groups have started to use in their fight against the American forces in Iraq, the Kurdish deputy said that these did not necessarily come from Iran since the gunmen “can bring them from any other sources like Syria or the former Iraqi army.”

Elimination of these militias is one of the main reasons that President Bush presented to Congress to get its support for implementing his new strategy in Iraq and the security plan in the Iraqi capital by sending more American troops to Iraq.