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Tehran looking beyond Al-Assad- Iraqi source | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat – A senior member of Iraq’s National Alliance – between Nuri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition, Ammar al-Hakim’s Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq [ISCI], and the Sadrist movement led by radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr – has revealed that “Iran is playing a major role” in delaying the political process in Iraq. He added that “the Iranian leadership views the al-Iraqiya bloc (that is led by Iyad Allawi) as a Sunni-bloc which represents a genuine threat to their presence in Iraq. Moreover, there is a red-line in place with regards to Allawi holding an influential position in Iraq.”

The senior ISCI member also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Tehran is very concerned about the fate of the Syrian regime, and it wants to move the area of conflict to Iraq and the Arab Gulf region” adding that “in the event of the collapse of the Bashar al-Assad regime, Tehran will concentrate on Baghdad as an alternative to Damascus.”

The ISCI source, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, also revealed that “instructions have been issued – in the form of advice from the al-Quds Force that is responsible for the Iraqi file in Iran – for a media campaign to be launched against the Gulf States, particularly Saudi Arabia, in order to raise the issue of Bahrain once again, as well as for a media campaign to be launched against Kuwait against the backdrop of its construction of the Mubarak Port “

The source informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “we [the ISCI] refused to implement this advice, as we value our good and strong relations with our brothers in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and all Arab Gulf states” adding that “some [parties] have already launched such media campaigns, including one Iraqi movement and minister” in a clear reference to the Sadrist Movement and Iraqi Minister of Transportation Hadi Al-Amiri. The Sadrist Movement and al-Amiri have both strongly criticized Kuwait’s construction of the Mubarak Port, in addition to issuing condemnations regarding Saudi Arabia’s part in the recent Bahrain crisis.

The senior ISCI member also made reference to the “anxiety and fear [in Iraq] of negative developments in the Syrian situation which may impact the situation in Iraq” adding that “we support the people of Syria and call for their just demands to be met.”

The Iraqi source stressed that “there are other parties within the National Alliance that stand with the al-Assad regime, most prominently Nuri al-Maliki, not just in his position as leader of the State of Law coalition, but also in his position as [Iraqi] prime minister.”

He added that “assistance is being provided to Syria, both from Iraq as well as Iran…via Iraqi [territory].”

As for the political situation inside Iraq, the senior ISCI member told Asharq Al-Awsat that he was not optimistic of any positive outcome being reached in the forthcoming talks between the leaders of the various political blocs in Iraq over the delay in the appointment of the Iraqi Interior and Defense Ministers, as well as the formation of the National Council for Strategic Policies. He stressed that “Iran is playing an active and effective role in the failure of this situation to be resolved, and this is via its direct intervention in all the details of the political process of Iraq.”

He added that “the meetings and discussions that have taken place between the Iraqi political bloc leaders and which were attended by everybody from Allawi to al-Maliki, under the auspices of President Jalal Talabani, in order to move forward with regards to implementing the initiative put forward by President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani [which resulted in the formation of the Iraqi government] have failed to reach any results, for what was agreed upon has not been implemented.”

The ISCI source revealed that “the most prominent thing that was agreed upon was for both sides – the al-Iraqiya bloc and the State of Law coalition – to stop their media attack campaign and put forward their candidates for the Iraqi Interior and Defense ministerial positions, as well as for a vote on the law establishing the National Council for Strategic Policies which will be headed by Allawi, however none of these agreements were implemented, and the media war between the two parties has reached its peak.”

He added that “the al-Iraqiya bloc candidate for the position of Iraqi Defense Minister was rejected by al-Maliki, who appointed Iraqi Minister of Culture, Saadoun Al Dulaimi, as acting Minister of Defense, without even consulting the National Alliance.” In addition to this, the source also revealed that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has announced that there is no need for the establishing of a National Council for Strategic Policies.

The ISCI source divulged some details of what happened behind closed doors during the meetings to discuss Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s initiative, informing Asharq Al-Awsat that “al-Maliki has gone back on many of the commitments that he pledged to make with regards to the Barzani initiative prior to the formation of the government; including his commitment that the position of Iraqi Defense Minister would be held by a member of the al-Iraqiya bloc.”

He added “Al-Maliki said that ‘I did not pledge to do this’ and when Allawi brought out a document that was signed by Hassan al-Saneed, who headed the State of Law coalition’s delegation during the negotiations, confirming that the position of Iraqi Minister of Defense should be held by a member of the al-Iraqiya bloc, the State of Law coalition denied this and said ‘we do not recognize al-Saneed’s signature and we had no knowledge of this.’”

The ISCI source also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Allawi had the upper-hand during these talks, as his position was based upon signed documents. He insisted upon the implementation of this agreement – the content of which we are all aware of – and this includes the establishment of a National Council for Strategic Policies which would ensure the active participation of the al-Iraqiya bloc in the Iraqi political process, particularly as the al-Iraqiya bloc won the most number of seats at the parliamentary elections.”