Washington : The United States needs to “engage seriously” with Iran, which is meddling in Iraqi internal affairs in a way that could cause Iraq to lose “everything” of its nascent political process, Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie warned on Friday.
In a short speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, Rubaie also linked Syria to “foreign terrorists” in Iraq. Damascus has been denying any link.
Referring to Iran, Rubaie said, “I have no problem making them feel the pain in Iraq,” but an Iraqi attack on Iran was “not an option”.
Rubaie said it was “pivotal” to have continued U.S. support for the Iraqi democratic political process and security.
Citing “tangible progress” in Iraqi security, Rubaie said Iraqi political progress also taking place, but “that is not visible to you.” However, he also said there were many obstacles, with Cabinet ministers resigning amid efforts to “clog, jam and freeze progress” with the goal of bringing down the Iraqi goverernment. “Mainstream” Shia, Sunni and Kurds are not responsible for this, he said.
Iraq will need an “enduring, bilateral relationship” with the United States for decades, he said, in the areas of security, economics, and politics and diplomacy, he said.
The Iraqi government wants to be “one of the anchors — a strategic ally — ” of the U.S. in the region, he said.
While no one in Iraq wants foreign troops there, such troops are needed to deal with an enemy that is “shifting and changing internally and regionally”.
If conditions on the ground continue to grow favorable in the coming months, he said, the “logistics will be in place” by the end of 2008 such that Iraqis will be “ready for anything”.
Asked by KUNA about the state of Iraq-Kuwait relations, Rubaie said Kuwait was “one of the good friends of Iraq in the Arab world”.
Kuwait has good relations with most of the political leaders in Iraq today, he said.
The issue of “debts and compensation — war reparations” is one in which Kuwait needs to take a “brave and courageous stand,” Rubaie said, so Iraqis will not be punished for the 1990-91 crimes of ex-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
A key problem facing Iraq is meddling neighbors, he said.
“Our neighbors, with very few exceptions, are playing a very negative role in Iraq,” he said. “They want to settle scores on Iraqi territory”.
Rubaie said there would be no serious Iraqi national reconciliation without regional reconciliation.