Iran escalating involvement in Iraq: Iraqi adviser


Washington : Iran has significantly increased its involvement in Iraq in an effort to undermine any progress made by US President George W. Bush’s troop surge, Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie said.

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Iran was “raising the heat” by supplying more sophisticated weaponry to militants responsible for attacks on US troops, al-Rubaie said Friday in an interview that appeared on the Washington Post’s website.

The Iranian agents detained by US troops and weapons intercepts are only the “tip of the iceberg” of the Islamic state’s activities in Iraq.

“What we have arrested is a peanut,” he said.

Iran has stepped up its role since an August meeting between the US and Iranian ambassadors in Baghdad to discuss US allegations that Iran has been fomenting violence in Iraq, al-Rubaie said.

Al-Rubaie said top Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have approved of the role in Iraq even though they have publicly denied involvement.

“There is one policy in Iran and others execute that policy, and that’s done through the National Security Council. And its chairman is the supreme leader,” Rubaie said.

The US military believes Iran’s elite al-Quds force has been shipping the weapons into Iraq and trains militants, and says it has seized arms that were made in Iran.

The US has also been in a confrontation with Iran over its suspected programme to build nuclear weapons and speculation is on the rise that Bush will order air strikes on Iran. Bush denied he has ordered his generals to prepare for military action against Iran in an interview with al-Arabiya that aired Friday, and reiterated his goal of resolving the dispute diplomatically.

Bush did not take the option of using force off the table, but called the speculation of a potential strike “empty propaganda” and “gossip.”

“I, of course, said all options are on the table, but I made a pledge to the American people we will work diplomatically to solve the problem,” he said.