AFP: The turmoil in Iraq is boosting Iran’s clout in the region, US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said on Wednesday. BAGHDAD, Jan 24, 2007 (AFP) – The turmoil in Iraq is boosting Iran’s clout in the region, US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said on Wednesday.
“Historically, Iraq has played a balancing role vis-a-vis Iran. Now that Iraq is a weakened state, it is helping the rise of the relative power of Iran,” Khalilzad told Western reporters in Baghdad.
“Iran is a rising and increasingly important issue … Iran wants to be a dominant power” in the region, said the top US envoy, who is to be named his country’s ambassador to the United Nations.
US officials in Iraq have repeatedly warned that Iran is supporting renegade Iraqi Shiite militias and providing weapons technology used by anti-US forces in Iraq.
On January 11, US troops arrested five Iranians from a liaison office in the northern Kurdish city of Arbil, accusing them of being agents for Tehran, arming militias and inciting anti-US attacks.
The arrests triggered a row, with Tehran accusing the US forces of violating international diplomatic regulations. Washington maintained those arrested had no diplomatic status.