Monday, January 18, 2010

New Iranian Ambassador To Iraq Is From Revolutionary Guards

Iraqi paper al-Zaman reported that Tehran has appointed a new ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Danafar. Like the outgoing ambassador, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, Danafar is from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force. Kazemi-Qomi was exposed as a member of the Revolutionary Guards in October 2007 by then commander of U.S. forces in Iraq General David Petraeus as part of an effort to counter Tehran’s support for militants. Earlier in his career Qomi helped organize Hezbollah in Lebanon. Danafar on the other hand, was the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards' navy.

The Qods Force is the main way Iran exerts influence in Iraq. It was created in 1990 as the foreign policy arm of the Revolutionary Guards. It has extensive ties with leading Iraqi parties such as the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, Dawa, the Sadrists, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party that it all fostered while Saddam was in power. It also funds some of these parties, has trained and equipped Shiite militias, provides economic aid to Iraq, and is charge of the crossings points in between the two countries used for trade.

Danafar’s appointment, like that of Kazemi-Qomi, shows that Iran does not want to have normal relations with Iraq. It would rather maintain a mix of overt and covert ties with Iraq’s parties and militias as it has since the 2003 invasion. This is to achieve its main goals of making sure Shiites stay in power in the 2010 elections so that Iraq never becomes a rival again, and increasing economic and cultural relations.

SOURCES

Dreyfuss, Robert, “Is Iran Winning the War in Iraq?” The Nation, 2/26/08

Felter, Joseph and Fishman, Brian, “Iranian Strategy in Iraq, Politics and ‘Other Means,’” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, 10/13/08

Yates, Dean, “Petraeus says Iran stoking Iraq violence,” Reuters, 10/7/07

Al-Zaman, “Iran Appoints IRGC Commander As Ambassador to Iraq,” MEMRI Blog, 1/14/10

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