Monday, November 26, 2007
Our Man in Baghdad
Iraq's most influential Shiite politician said Sunday that the U.S had not backed up claims that Iran is fueling violence here, underscoring a wide gap on the issue between Washington and the Shiite-led Baghdad government. [...]
The Americans have long accused the Iranians of arming and training Shiite militias, including some linked to the U.S.-backed government of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
U.S. officials have also alleged that Iran has provided weapons used to kill Americans — a charge the Iranians vehemently deny.
"These are only accusations raised by the multinational forces and I think these accusations need more proof," Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraq Council, told reporters.
Al-Hakim, who has been undergoing treatment for lung cancer in Iran, said the Iranians have insisted in meetings with Iraqi officials that "their true will is to support the Iraqi government" and to promote stability.
"They have a long history of standing by the Iraqi people and that is their official stance that is presented to the press without any hesitation," he said.
Kudos to the AP for actually putting the following information in print, a rarity:
I'd go one step further and add Maliki to the list of Iran aficionados (and ex-exiles). Less so with Sadr, though the media has an annoying tendency to invert the respective relationships, as I've long complained.
Al-Hakim spent years in exile in Iran during Saddam's regime and is considered closer to the Iranians than any of the major Iraqi Shiite leaders. His party has also closely cooperated with American authorities since the 2003 collapse of Saddam's regime, and he has met with President Bush in the Oval Office. [emphasis added]