Iran and Iraq

According to the American sources, Tehran provides the Lebanon-based Hezbollah with funding, and safe refuge, and training, and weapons. Such a supportestimated at $ 80 million every year, has granted Iran an extension with a dangerous influence. For example, the Hezbollah suicide operations against the barracks of the Marines and the attaché of the American embassy in Beirut that occurred successively in October 1983 and September 1984 killed about 300 persons between diplomats and troops. In addition to that, the FBI list of the 22 most wanted terrorists includes three among Hezbollah activists accused of the hijack of the TW2 847 plane in 1985. Besides, according to a Washington Post report published in November 1996, the Saudi intelligence has concluded that a local group also called the Hezbollah was responsible for the explosion of a truck in June 1996 next of the American military compounds in Al Khobar on the Persian Gulf coast in the kingdom. The Saudis confirmed also that this local group was a wing to the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Only a week prior to the launch of the coalition forces the operation “Iraqi freedom”, the Hezbollah Secretary-General M. Hassan Nasr Allah declared in a speech transmitted by Al-Manar TV, that ” in the past, when the Marines were in Beirut, we used to shout: Death to America! And today, whereas the region is still full of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers, our slogan is and will remain: Death to America!"

Yet, the Iranian support of the anti-american brand of terrorism is not limited to the Hezbollah. According to American sources, it appears that some among Al-Qaeda activists have got a safe refuge for them in Iran. Tehran links with the Al-Qaeda network seems obscure though, but there are some indications. For example, during the trial concerning the case of terrorist operations against the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (in 1998), one of the accused declared that he has carried out the protection of the talks between the activists of Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah. Moreover, the telephone records for the trial have revealed that during the period preceding the explosions, 10 % of the conversations Bin Laden held from his cellular phone was to Iran.

These are the facts we know. Now, what is new concerns mainly Iraq.

In this context, it seems that over two thousand Tehran supported clerics have crossed to Iraq from Iran since May 2003. Many of them were carrying books, and Cds, and videotapes encouraging the Jihadists and preaching for an Islamic warfare. According to the sources of the Iranian Resistance (NCRI), the force of Jerusalem belonging to the legion of the Iranian guardians of the revolution carried out the foundation of armed cells underground through the southern Shiite region in Iraq, and some are using the Iranian Red Crescent as a facade. Our sources are convinced that Jerusalem force has established also infirmary centers and local charitable associations in Najaf, and Baghdad, and Al Hella, and Basra, and Amara, in order to get the population support. In addition to that, and according to the Washington Post report in September 2003, the agents of the Iranian Islamic revolution guard legion have spread in Najaf with the precise aim of collecting intelligence information about the United States forces. Tehran has allowed also the return to Iraq of the Ansar al Islam group, – which is known for its close connections to Al-Qaeda- and it is since coordinating with what is called “the resistance”.

Even when Tehran started sending Iranian activists to the postwar Iraq, members from the Hezbollah sneaked into the country also. And because most Hezbollah members are Arabs, they form a group of agents more efficient in Iraq than the Arabic trained Iranian agents. According to NCRI sources (also confirmed by American intelligence information), Tehran has entrusted the Hezbollah with sending agents and clerics to the biggest part of the southern Iraq. Thus, some of the greatest conflict operations would reach their aim .The Hezbollah warriors have crossed to the country not only from Syria, as it seems, but also from Iran. At first sight, the number of these activists is around a hundred approximately, but this small number relatively shows the importance of their likely influence on Tehran behavior. The Hezbollah has founded charitable organizations in Iraq for the sake of the creation of a context supporting the recruitment, which is a tactics that the organization has tried in the past in Lebanon with the Lebanese resistance. Furthermore, according to Mohammad Allawy, the Hezbollah spokesman in Iraq, the organization agents were acting as a force of local police in several southern cities (for example, in Nasserya and Amara). Generally, it appears that Tehran uses the Hezbollah as an extension tool for its penetration into the local Iraqi administration and the judicial system.

The dissident Iranian sources believe that Tehran has used the Hezbollah for “fleeing” the Iraqis that were living in Iran so that they return to their original country. The fact is there is a huge number of Iraqis with a double nationality in Iran since long years, and some of them have even worked as officers in the legion of the guardians of the Iranian revolution. The new development may be that some of these individuals have joined apparently the Iraqi police since the end of the main conflict. The dissident Iranian sources are convinced also that the Hezbollah tries to spy on the centers of the gathering of the international forces in Iraq, tracking their agenda timings and their system of moving, as well as all what the different coalition compounds carries out or contain, including the tanks, and the armored personnel carriers, and the cars convoys. The Hezbollah agents would be recording different sites on videotapes, while they would disguise as normal persons using the public transports. Sometimes, they would hide under an ordinary cover (for example, the celebrations of the weddings and familial gatherings, etc) to avoid being discovered by the coalition forces. Such reports actually confirm some of the declarations made by different groups (and not only the Hezbollah) concerning their readiness to achieving more attacks on the United States forces in Iraq.

The destructive earthquake that hit Iran in December 2003 has renewed the polemic about whether Washington must resume its quiet dialogue with Tehran. This dialogue has stopped in the spring 2003 after some intelligence reports have linked Al-Qaeda activists resident in Iran to a series of suicide bombings in the Saudi kingdom. Now, since Tehran has seemingly agreed to have its nuclear program under control, the terrorism dossier- which Iran is accused of supporting – heads the list of the issues to be assumedly discussed between Washington and Tehran. Yet, another dossier is no less important. It is related to the Tehran attempts at the set up of an intelligence infrastructure in Iraq. That’s why some analysts believe that prior to any resumption of the Iranian American dialogue, Washington would have to insist on the expulsion of Al-Qaeda members who took refuge in Iran, and in addition, Tehran would have to withdraw from Iraq the groups of fighters such as the Hezbollah, and the force of Jerusalem belonging to the legion of the guardians of the revolution.