According to Ali Nurizadeh in Asharq al-Awsat, the British government has given Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi an undertaking that in the aftermath of the Anglo-American attack on Iraq, Iran would not be subject to any military action. Iran has been nervous about British intentions since a recent invitation was issued to Reza Pahlavi, son of the deposed Shah, to speak at the Royal Institute for International Affairs recently. The UK has tried to allay those fears.
The Iranians are also very worried about whether they will have any influence in post-Saddam Iraq. Nurizadeh argues that the Iranians had their hands burned in Afghanistan because they had expected `Abdu’l-Karim Khalili, head of the Shi`ite Hizb-i Vahdat, to be a useful tool for them against the Americans and President Karzai. Khalili, who is one of Karzai’s vice presidents, however, has refused to play that role, saying he is an Afghan first and a Shi`ite second. Since they had put all their eggs in the Hizb-i Vahdat basket, they were stuck. They also received hostility from US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who accused them of using warlord Ismail Khan of Herat to establish hegemony over western Afghanistan.
The Iranians had invested similar hopes in the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, headed by Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim. But al-Hakim, Nurizadeh alleges, was mainly backed by the US State Department. At the insistence of Khalilzad and Condaleeza Rice, the Iraqi dissident committee has been enlarged from 65 to 100 so as to dilute the influence of SCIRI, and seats have been given to other Shi`ite Iraqi voices such as the al-Da`wa Party, and to independent political tendencies such as those of `Abd al-Majid al-Khu’i, Shirazi, and the Organization of Islamic Action. Iran has, in tandem, attempted to broaden its relations with the dissidents likely to replace Saddam, as with its meeting in Tehran with Ahmad Chalabi.