Iranian Diplomat Says a US attack on Najaf will Lead to Widespread Crisis throughout Iraq
From the ISNA website, via by BBC World Monitoring:
Iranian charge d’affaires to Iraq, Hasan Kazemi-Qomi made several statements at the Iranian Students News Agency site on 23 April:
‘ “If the occupying forces disregard the internal political, social and security situation in Iraq and launch military operations in the holy cities, including Najaf, then this will only lead to increasing clashes and the present crisis will only escalate. In fact, this will also lead to the emergence of serious popular resistance and will confront the occupying forces with serious problems. In that case, one can only predict the increasing lack of security in Iraq and the crisis will escalate to all the other parts of Iraq.” ‘ . . .
‘ Another achievement of the visit [of the Iranian delegation last week] was that Iran expressed its readiness to contribute in any way possible to the restoration of calm, stability and security in Iraq. This was welcomed. However, the fact of the matter is that the bellicose policies of the occupying forces and their irrational response to the people’s demands have increased and escalated the clashes on the domestic Iraqi scene. ‘ . . .
‘ Kazemi-Qomi stressed that the international community, the governing council and Iraq’s neighbours should exert pressure on the occupying forces to prevent them from continuing to use force and resort to violence. ‘
‘ As we saw today, some coalition forces, such as Spanish and Honduran forces, are no longer prepared to cooperate within the framework of the coalition. . . For various reasons, these forces are no longer interested in staying in Iraq. That is because, firstly, those forces have come to Iraq to contribute to reconstruction and the establishment of security, not to deal with the crisis and oppose popular forces. Secondly, the policies that America is currently implementing are incompatible with the policies of other coalition forces in Iraq. In fact, one can even see differences of opinion between political and military sectors in America . . . Public opinion in countries that are members of the coalition have been exerting pressure on their governments and they are not prepared to sacrifice the lives of their own people so as to enable others to achieve their aims. Another reason is that coalition forces have taken account of their own future in Iraq. If they oppose the demands of the people of that country, they will jeopardize their own national interests in Iraq. . . If the crisis continues to escalate, then more countries will try to leave the coalition. ‘
Source: ISNA web site, Tehran, in Persian 0932 gmt 23 Apr 04
What comes across here is that actually many Iranian officials want Iraq to be a stable neighbor, and are worried that the US is mishandling it and that trouble will spread across the border to Iran. They were perfectly happy to offer their good offices to help resolve the current standoff at Najaf, but clearly no major party to the dispute was interested in having them do that, including especially Muqtada al-Sadr.
The Ledeenist drumbeat on the Brownshirt side of the Republican Party that Iran is behind the recent instability in the Shiite south is directly contradicted by Iranian actions and by Muqtada al-Sadr’s refusal to see his supposed patrons. In fact, I suspect Ahmad Chalabi gets more money from Iran than Muqtada does. And, it seems obvious that the US administrators are the ones who provoked the clashes, which were not spontaneous but came in response to a US attempt to arrest Muqtada.