Iran supporting Iraq’s militias, says Khalilzad
WASHINGTON: Iran is backing the Iraq’s militias and insurgent groups behind the scenes while signalling its support for the country’s budding democracy, US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad told The Washington Post.
“Our judgment is that training and supplying, direct or indirect, takes place, and that there is also provision of financial resources to people, to militias, and that there is presence of people associated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and with MOIS,” Khalilzad said, referring to Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security.
The Afghan-born ambassador, in an interview published on Friday, said he was especially concerned over Iran’s links to the Mehdi Army, an armed group loyal to Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr whom he blamed for the latest spike in sectarian killings in Iraq.
Khalilzad repeated accusations made recently by top US officials about Iran’s covert involvement in Iraq’s insurgency at a time when it has offered to meet with the United States to discuss stabilising its troubled neighbour. Iran has denied Iraqi Sunni charges that it supports Shia militias, who are blamed for much of the sectarian fighting and who Khalilzad said represent the biggest challenge to the yet-to-be-formed Iraqi government.
“The militias haven’t been focused on decisively yet. That will be tough,” he said. “More Iraqis in Baghdad are dying - if you look at the recent period of two, three weeks - from militia attacks than from the terrorist car bombings.”
Of the Shia-Sunni struggle in Iraqi to form a government, Khalilzad said there was a deep gulf between the two communities. “Sunnis are concerned about having a say in the decision-making, while the Shia concern is that having a say in the decision-making should not obviate the results of the elections and should not create a situation in which decisions are so difficult to make that nothing happens because everyone needs to speak to everyone before anything is done,” he said. AFP