Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Iranian Ambassador To Iraq Confirmed As Revolutionary Guards Member

As reported before, on January 14, 2009 Al-Zaman newspaper reported that the new Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Danafar, was from the Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force. Danafar is currently the chairman of Iran’s Headquarters for Renovation of Iraq’s Holy Shrines, but other reports say that he was deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s navy. On January 26, the spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that Danafar is indeed a member of the Revolutionary Guards. Tehran’s justification is that Iraq is in a state of war.

This appointment comes at a time of tension between Iraq and Iran. In December 2009, Iranian forces occupied Well Number 4 at the Faqui oil field in Maysan province, and did not leave the area until January 27, claiming that it was in their territory. This month’s banning of candidates from the March 2010 election also has many pointing fingers at Iran as the two leaders of the Accountability and Justice Commission are known to have strong ties with Tehran. The most notable was the U.S. commander of the Central Command General David Petraeus, who told the Times of London on January 25 that the Qods Force may be behind the Commission’s actions.

Iran is intent on maintaining and expanding its influence in post-Saddam Iraq. It is already one of Iraq’s largest trade partners, is the largest source of tourism, and provides support to both political and militant Shiite groups. Right now it is focusing upon the 2010 elections to try to ensure continued Shiite rule, because that would provide the best relations between the two countries. Danafar’s appointment is just another sign that Tehran will use both overt and covert means to achieve these goals.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Iranian troops leave Iraqi oil field: governor,” 1/27/10

AK News, “Controversy over Iran’s new ambassador to Iraq,” 1/23/10

Bruno, Greg, “Avoiding Crisis in Iraq’s Political Minefield,” Council on Foreign Relations, 1/25/10

Haynes, Deborah, “General David Petraeus: full transcript of interview with The Times,” 1/25/10

ILNA, Al-Jarida, “Iranian ForMin: Our Ambassador To Baghdad Is IRGC Official,” MEMRI Blog, 1/26/10

3 comments:

AndrewSshi said...

You know, one thing I really want to find out once the definitive history of the Iraq war is written is: Back in 2003, how did the folks at PNAC et al. not realize that the various groups in the INC had things like "Islamic Revolution" in their name?

Joel Wing said...

That's a great question. I know that the Supreme Council began reaching out to the U.S. around 1989 and Chalabi spoke up for them. By the middle of 2002 they were meeting with Bush administration officials. After the invasion a lot of Americans looked at the Supreme Council as the "moderate" Shiite group, compared to Sadr.

Probably one big factor in their acceptance by Washington was the fact that the big movers and shakers for war actually knew little to nothing about Iraq. The neocons for example, heard Chalabi telling them about the Supreme Council, and they already didn't like the CIA and State Dept., so they probably never heard that the Supreme Council supported Khomeini or that their Badr Brigade was a formal part of the Revolutionary Guards. Or worse yet, just didn't care because they were so intent on getting rid of Saddam.

Even to this day there are a lot of ignorant statements by American officials about this. I remember former U.S. Ambassador Crocker made a statement about how Iraqis were nationalists and didn't want Iranian domination. He used the example of how the Iraqis fought against the Iranians in the Iran-Iraq War, which of course ignored the fact that the two ruling Kurdish parties and the Supreme Council all fought on the Iranian side and those were America's best buddies in the government.

Matt Delventhal said...

How true. I can't help but feeling that the judgement of history on this whole flying circus will be that the Americans invaded and handed the country to Iran. Not too many people acknowledge this now but the result is becoming increasingly clear.

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