On April 15, 2010 U.S. and Iraqi officials announced that up to $4 million in counterfeit U.S. currency had been detected within Iraq. Almost all of the money entered the Iraqi economy in December 2009. U.S. and Iraqi forces have seized up to $500,000 of the fake money so far, most of it in Maysan and other southern provinces. The counterfeit dollars were openly used in Iraqi markets and some of it even ended up on U.S. bases through Iraqi contractors working there. The dollars were of varying qualities from those printed from computers to sophisticated forgeries that only experts could detect. The U.S. Secret Service that investigates counterfeiting cases said that only Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon have the capability to produce the high quality fakes. This has led to speculation that Iran spread the fake money to influence Iraq’s March 2010 parliamentary elections.
It’s widely known that Tehran was supporting the main Shiite parties such as the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and the Sadrists. In February 2010 a U.S. leak to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius claimed that Iran was giving $9 million a month to the Supreme Council and $8 million a month to the Sadrists before the voting. Iran has been known to interfere in Iraq’s previous elections. Before the 2005 vote for Iraq’s new parliament for example, an Iranian tanker was caught full of fake ballots coming across the border.
Iran’s main priority in Iraq is to make sure that a friendly, Shiite led government is in power in Baghdad. They have exerted all means of soft and hard power to achieve this goal so it would not be surprising if they tried to buy votes and influence using fake money before the 2010 balloting.
Allam, Hannah, “Iraq awash in phony U.S. money; officials suspect Iran,” McClatchy Newspapers, 4/15/10
Filkins, Dexter, “Police Seize Forged Ballots Headed to Iraq From Iran,” New York Times, 12/14/05
Ignatius, David, “Tehran’s Vote Buying in Iraq,” Washington Post, 2/25/10
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