Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Iran supports Free and Open Iraqi Elections

Khaleej Times Online: "Iraqi elections under threat from Iran, Jordanian, Iraqi leaders tell US daily
(AFP)

8 December 2004
WASHINGTON - Iran is trying to influence the Iraqi elections set for January 30 by coaching candidates, sending thousands of Iranians into Iraq to vote and pouring in lots of money, the Jordanian king and the Iraqi interim president told The Washington Post in interviews published on Wednesday.

“It is in Iran’s vested interest to have an Islamic republic of Iraq ... and therefore the involvement you’re getting by the Iranians is to achieve a government that is very pro-Iran,” Jordan’s King Abdullah II said.

“Unfortunately, time is proving, and the situation is proving, beyond any doubt that Iran has very obvious interference in our business -- a lot of money, a lot of intelligence activities and almost interfering daily ... especially in the southeast side of Iraq,” President Ghazi al-Yawar said.

Both leaders were in Washington and met with US President George W. Bush on Monday.

The Iraqi leaders said Iran was coaching candidates and political parties sympathetic to Tehran and pouring “huge amounts of money” into the Iraqi campaign to produce a Shiite-dominated government.

The Jordanian monarch said the Iranian government had encouraged more than one million Iranians to cross into Iraq, many with the objective of voting in the upcoming elections.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of people, a lot of Iranians in there that will be used as part of the polls to influence the outcome,” Abdullah said.

The king also said Iran was providing salaries and welfare to unemployed Iraqis to build pro-Iranian public sentiment.

He warned that if a pro-Iranian government were elected in Iraq, a new “crescent” of dominant Shiite movements or governments could emerge stretching from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, altering the traditional balance of power between the two main Islamic sects, Shiites and Sunnis.

“If Iraq goes Islamic republic, then, yes, we’ve opened ourselves to a whole set of new problems that will not be limited to the borders of Iraq,” said Abdullah.

“I’m looking at the glass half-full, and let’s hope that’s not the case. But strategic planners around the world have got to be aware that is a possibility,” he added."

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