Friday, September 03, 2004

Iran And Al-Zarqawi

Iraq blogger Fayrouz at Live From Dallas has translated an interesting article from the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, which talks of extensive links between the Mullahs and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, Iraqi Public Enemy No. 1 and Al Qaeda affiliate. Its reasons? Simple. Just like President Bush mentioned yesterday in his acceptance speech at the RNC, the Mullahs may not like a Suni terrorist, but they absolutely fear the idea of a democratic Iraq next door:

Iran admits it provides facilities to Al-Zarqawi to conduct his operations in Iraq

A reliable Iranian source confirmed that Brig. Gen. Qassim Sullaimani, the commander of Al-Quds corps in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, told a closed seminar that Iran provides facilities to the Jordanian extremist scholar, Abu Mosaab Al-Zarqawi. Al-Zarqawi is accused of conducting most of the suicide operations and attacks in Iraq. Sullaimani justified this cooperation because Al-Zarqawi's activities in Iraq "serve the high interests of the Islamic Republic." Among these interests is the prevention of a federalist secular regime in Iraq that cooperates with the United States.

The source, who attended the closed seminar for students of strategic and defense studies at the university of Imam Al-Hussein told "Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" newspaper that Brig. Gen. Sullaimani said, "Al-Zarqawi and members of his organization (Ansar Al-Islam) don't need prior permission to enter Iran. There are specific border points which stretch from Halabja in the north to Elam in the south where Al-Zarqawi and more than 20 Ansar Al-Islam commanders can enter Iran whenever they want."

The source said Brig. Gen. Sullaimani, who oversees the activities of the revolutionary guards intelligence units and Al-Quds corps operating in Iraq, answered questions from students about why Iran supports a person who is anti-Shia, like Al-Zarqawi, who previously was accused of his involvement in the killing of Ayet Allah Mohammed Baqir Al-Hakim, president of the high council of Islamic revolution in Iraq.

Despite the accusation coming from close circles to the Iranian regime leader Ali Kham'ani, Sullaimani considers Al-Zarqawi's involvement in Al-Hakim's killing unconfirmed. Instead, he said Al-Zarqawi's activities now serve the high interests of the Islamic Republic. The establishment of a secular Iraq that cooperates with the United States is more dangerous than the former Baath regime. The new regime will form – according to Al-Sullaimani – a real threat to the pure revolutionary Mohamedi Islam and the scholars' state – according to the source.
Much like the Iranian capture of British sailors on patrol in Iraqi waters, and the earlier 'rearranging' of its border with Iraq near Basra, right after the fall of Baghdad, it seems another provocation by the mullahs. They're testing us, finding out how far they can push.

I'm not too sure of the editorial scrutiny of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (I believe they're pro-Saddam even), we'll have to wait and see how this develops.