Iran Seeks Total Control Over Iraq
Iran has been subverting the Baghdad government as part of a plan to gain total control over neighboring Iraq, a report said.
A report by the Jamestown Foundation said Iran has expanded its subversion efforts and intends to fragment Iraq. Authored by U.S. Army analyst Mounir Elkhamri, the report said Tehran plans to annex the Iraq’s Shiite areas and oil fields.
“Iran has now moved covertly and overtly onto Iraq to subvert Iraqi institutions and eventually to assume total control,” the report said. “Iran has now entered a wider and more dangerous game by subverting the Iraqi police and armed forces into a ‘greater Shia’ cause, which Iran hopes will lead to the fragmentation of Iraq and the incorporation of oil-rich Shia lands into Iran.”
Elkhamri, author of the report entitled “Iran’s Contribution to the Civil War in Iraq,” serves as a Middle East military analyst at the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. A sergeant in the army reserve, he recently returned from an 18-month tour in Iraq where he worked with a logistics brigade, a maneuver battalion and a Special Forces team.
The report said Iran had anticipated a U.S. invasion of Iraq since 2001.
After the invasion, Iran infiltrated the new Iraqi government and security forces and assassinated former Iraqi officers and scientists.
“Today, Iran considers Iraq as its frontline state against the United States and its allies, especially if the United States decides to attack Iran’s nuclear installations,” the report said.
U.S. officials agreed with much of the Jamestown assessment. They said Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps maintains at least 150 intelligence operatives in Iraq, many of them embedded with Shiite militias.
Iranian current activities in Iraq were said to be far greater than Tehran’s subversion during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. The report said IRGC has recruited 70,000 Iraqis from the south to join a militia loyal to Tehran. Each of the recruits received $2,000 in advance, then $1,000 a month, regarded as a huge sum in Iraq.
“Vast areas of Iraq are under the virtual control of the [IRGC] Qods Force through its Iraqi surrogates,” the report quoted an IRGC defector as saying. “It uses a vast array of charities, companies and other fronts to conduct its activities across Iraq.”
IRGC officers were said to have entered Iraq disguised as construction workers, with many of them later acquiring Iraqi citizenship. In Najaf and other cities, the Qods officers organized underground cells and later sent more than 2,000 Iraqi recruits to Iran for training in intelligence work.
“Iran has sent several Iraqi political figures who were living in Iran back to Iraq to infiltrate and obtain sensitive political positions in the new Iraqi government,” the report said. “Iran considers these figures a solid foundation in the process of incorporating Iraq, without its northern area of Kurdistan, the moment the coalition forces start leaving Iraq.”
The report said Iran maintains a “respectable presence” in northern Iraq. Iran was said to have pledged not to intervene in Iraqi Kurdistan’s internal affairs.
Yemen Is Major Contributor To War In Iraq
Yemen has been identified as a leading contributor to the Sunni insurgency war in Iraq. Yemeni sources confirmed U.S. assertions that Yemeni nationals have comprised one of the largest foreign contingents in the al-Qaida campaign against the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. The sources said al-Qaida-aligned groups established a recruiting infrastructure that has sent at least 1,000 Yemenis to fight in Iraq.
Details of the Yemeni contribution were reported by the Sanaa-based weekly Al Tajamu last Monday. The newspaper reported that more than 1,000 Yemeni men traveled to Iraq to fight in the Sunni insurgency.
The newspaper said most of the Yemenis were recruited in 2006. About 150 Yemenis were said to have been killed in the conflict.
About 75 percent of the Yemeni recruits arrived in Iraq directly from their native country, the newspaper, citing Islamic and security sources, said. The newspaper said most of the recruits were under 20 and regarded their mission as an Islamic holy war against the West.
Islamist groups have helped finance the trip of the Yemeni fighters to Iraq. The newspaper cited the Al Hekma Charitable Association, with offices in Abyan, Aden and Sanaa. Al Hekma has denied the assertion.
U.S. intelligence sources said Yemenis comprised one of the three largest groups of foreign insurgents in Iraq. They said many of the Yemenis were recruited for suicide strikes against Shiites and U.S. and Iraqi military targets.
Sudan Said To Shelter Iraqi Insurgents
The U.S. military has determined that Sudan could be sheltering Sunni insurgents in Iraq.
Officials said the U.S. military assessed that the Sudanese embassy in Baghdad was protecting Sunni insurgents. They said the insurgents were believed to have included al-Qaida operatives.
On Jan. 13, U.S. troops raided the Sudanese embassy in search of insurgents. The soldiers forced open two locked doors and searched the offices.
“The compound was searched as part of an operation in the general vicinity that was aimed at denying insurgents safe haven to carry out attacks against Iraqi security forces and Iraqi citizens,” a U.S. military statement said on Jan. 18.
©The Bulletin 2007