News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqUS Capitol Hill briefing denounces Iran’s meddling in Iraq

US Capitol Hill briefing denounces Iran’s meddling in Iraq

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Iran Focus: Washington, May 11 – A briefing was held in the United States Congress yesterday entitled “Iraq’s Future: The Iranian Impact” on the initiative of the Iran Human Rights and Democracy Caucus in the House of Representatives, co-chaired by Congressman Thomas Tancredo (R-Col) and Congressman Bob Filner (D-Cal). The panel included, Dr.
Sa’d Abdullah Al-Jabouri, the former governor of Iraq’s Diyala province, which borders Iran and is where the main Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin (PMOI) are based.
Iran Focus

Washington, May 11 – A briefing was held in the United States Congress yesterday entitled “Iraq’s Future: The Iranian Impact” on the initiative of the Iran Human Rights and Democracy Caucus in the House of Representatives, co-chaired by Congressman Thomas Tancredo (R-Col) and Congressman Bob Filner (D-Cal).

The panel included, Dr. Sa’d Abdullah Al-Jabouri, the former governor of Iraq’s Diyala province, which borders Iran and is where the main Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin (PMOI) are based.

Other panellists at the event included Lt. Colonel Thomas Cantwell, the commander of the U.S. Military Police 324th Battalion, who served in Iraq for more than a year and was responsible for guarding Camp Ashraf, where the PMOI are based; Captain Vivian Gembara, attorney in JAG forces of the U.S. military for 4 years and deployed in Iraq for 12 months from April 2003 where she was part of the negotiating team to negotiate a ceasefire between Coalition Forces and the PMOI; and Dr. Kenneth Katzman, a specialist in Middle East affairs for the Congressional Research Service.

The panellists said that Tehran was keen to use Iraq as a springboard to foment Islamic fundamentalism throughout the entire Middle East, adding that there was plenty of evidence that Iran’s money, weapons and agents were “fanning the flames of insurgency in Iraq”.

Al-Jabouri, told the briefing session, held in the Rayburn House Office Building, that 2.8 million Iraqis had signed a petition in support of the PMOI, calling on the U.S. and Europe to remove the group from the list of terrorist organisations.

On April 16, during a conference in Baghdad, leaders and representatives of 11 Iraqi political parties and groups unveiled a petition signed by 2.8 million Iraqis, sharply criticising neighbouring Iran’s rising meddling in Iraq, warning of the spectre of “Islamic fundamentalism’s stealthy domination” of their country, and offering strong support to the PMOI.

Iraqi signatories included ethnic Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen, from different religious backgrounds, including Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims, Christians, and people of other faiths.

The Iraqi statement said that the PMOI was fighting a “legitimate struggle against an unjust dictatorship”, adding Iran’s meddling was the biggest cause of instability in present-day Iraq.

During the briefing session, Katzman brought to light new information regarding Iranian meddling inside neighbouring Iraq, adding that the Iranian regime had many Iraqi mercenaries on its payroll.

Al-Jabouri, referring to allegations that the PMOI took part in the suppression of Iraqi Kurds and Shiites, added, “The MEK [PMOI”> had no presence in Shiite-dominated regions or southern Iraq during the first Gulf War in 1991”.

Cantwell told the briefing that during his service in Iraq, he had spoken to many heads of Iraqi tribes, particularly in Diyala province, and that the majority supported the PMOI.

Gembara said that as a military officer and attorney, after having dealt with the PMOI, she was convinced that they should be removed from the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations.

Dozens of think tank representatives, Middle East experts and foreign embassy staff took part in the briefing session.

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