Saturday, October 27, 2007

Revolutionary Guard runs Iran's Baghdad embassy, opposition group claims

Saturday, 27 October 2007
Associated Press

BRUSSELS, Belgium, (AP): Iran's Revolutionary Guard is using Iran's Embassy in Baghdad to coordinate covert operations in Iraq, an Iranian opposition group has claimed.

Mohammad Mohadessin, a spokesman for the Paris-based National Council Resistance of Iran, or NCRI, also said the guard had taken over some of Iran's most lucrative companies and was profiting from trade with the European Union.

"The Iranian regime is run by senior (Revolutionary Guard) officers and their role is growing," Mohadessin said in a statement received Saturday.

On Thursday, the United States imposed sweeping new sanctions against the Revolutionary Guard Corps, a main unit of Iran's Defense Ministry, because of Tehran's alleged support for terrorism and nuclear weapons ambitions. The ban targeted three of Iran's largest banks and eight people that Washington said were engaged in missile trade and backed extremist groups throughout the Middle East.

Maryam Rajavi, head of the NCRI, has welcomed Washington's move, describing it as "indispensable to thwart the export of terrorism and fundamentalism to the Middle East region."

Mohadessin claimed the Guard had transformed Iran's embassy in Baghdad "into the most important center for coordinating its terrorist and intelligence activities against Coalition forces."

He named four diplomats at the embassy who, he said, were senior Guard officers. They included the ambassador, Kazemi Qomi, Mohadessin said.

"They are directly responsible for supervising the transfer of shipments of weapons and ammunition ... from Iran to (the Guard's) proxy forces in Iraq."

An official at the Iranian Embassy in Brussels declined to comment on Mohadessin's allegations.

It was not possible to independently verify the NCRI claim, but the group has provided relatively accurate information on developments in Iran over the past several years, including details on the country's secretive nuclear program.

The NCRI is the political wing of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, an opposition group that advocates the overthrow of government in Tehran. The Mujahedeen have been designated a terrorist group by Iran, and by both the United States and the European Union.

"Over the years the (Guard) has created financial sources which do not fall under the control of the government," Mohadessin said.

Because large chunks of Iran's non-oil exports and imports are conducted by companies controlled by the Guard, "a major portion of the US$40 billion in EU trade is now done with (the Guard), its affiliates and its front companies."

But Christiane Hohmann, spokeswoman for EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, noted that the 27-nation bloc had not slapped sanctions on Iran.

"There is no economic embargo against Iran in place and no economic sanctions, (but) there are export restrictions in place with regard to dual-use goods," Hohmann said.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Petraeus: Iranian regime's ambassador to Baghdad is a member of Quds Force

Sunday, 07 October 2007

EAST OF BAQUBA, Iraq (Reuters) - The U.S. military commander in Iraq stepped up accusations over the weekend that Iran was stoking violence in Iraq and said Tehran's ambassador to Baghdad was a member of the Revolutionary Guards Qods force.

Washington accuses the force, the elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, of inciting bloodshed in Iraq and of training and equipping militias who have attacked U.S. troops.

General David Petraeus, speaking at a U.S. military base about 30 km (20 miles) from the Iranian border on Saturday, said Iran was giving advanced weaponry to militias in Iraq.

"They are responsible for providing the weapons, the training, the funding and in some cases the direction for operations that have indeed killed U.S. soldiers," Petraeus told a small group of reporters when asked if the Iranian government was responsible for killing U.S. troops.

"There is no question about the connection between Iran and these components, (the) attacks that have killed our soldiers."

Petraeus did not say how he knew Iran's ambassador to Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, was a member of the Qods force.

"The ambassador is a Qods force member," said Petraeus, before appearing to suggest that Kazemi-Qomi was not under the U.S. military spotlight because he was a diplomat.

"Now he has diplomatic immunity and therefore he is obviously not subject (to scrutiny). He is acting as a diplomat."

The Iranian embassy in Baghdad had no immediate comment.

Kazemi-Qomi has twice met U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker in Baghdad this year for landmark talks on ways to stabilise Iraq. The discussions have made little headway, with both sides accusing each other over the violence in the country.

The Qods force is a special unit of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. There are varying estimates of its strength but it is in charge of Tehran's support for groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories.

Iran's military acknowledges the existence of the Qods force, although it tends not to give details of its role.

Tehran routinely denies U.S. accusations about its role in Iraq's violence, as well as Western allegations its nuclear programme is aimed at developing atomic weapons.

President George W. Bush has said he is committed to diplomacy to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme but he has not ruled out taking military action.


But Petraeus said he had no doubts about the Qods force.

"There should be no question about the malign, lethal involvement and activities of the Qods force in this country," he said.

Petraeus listed the type of weapons he said Iran was supplying to militias in Iraq.

He said this comprised advanced rocket-propelled grenades, shoulder-fired "Stinger-like" air defence missiles and 240mm rockets. This was in addition to components used to make explosively formed projectiles (EFPs), a particularly deadly roadside bomb that has killed hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Petraeus also suggested there was an Iranian link in the assassination of two provincial governors in southern Iraq in August. Both were killed by roadside bombs.

"They are implicated in the assassination of some governors in the southern provinces," said Petraeus.

Asked to be more specific, he said one case "was clearly an explosively formed projectile".

"They only come from Iran and they are only used by militias so it's a sort of a signature trademark of militia extremists. The other case the suspicion is the same, we just don't have the same quality of forensics."

Asked if there was intelligence directly linking Iran to the two bomb attacks, he said: "I would not comment on this."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

700 Iraqi dignitaries find Iranian regime’s infiltration the cause for crisis in Iraq

Thursday, 04 October 2007

NCRI - More than 700 Iraqi dignitaries including Parliamentarians, political and governmental figures, Jurists and tribal leaders in a letter to the United Nations Secretary General blamed the Iranian regime for the present crisis in Iraq.

They demanded the United Nations to hold early elections in Iraq with necessary international guarantees. They requested from the UN Secretary General to immediately begin this process which is the inalienable right of Iraqi people.

The letter also states that, "4 million refugees, 650 thousand dead and millions injured and devastation of all the economic, social, service and security infrastructure is the heavy price paid for infiltration of Iranian regime and its proxies in our country.

"The painful thing is that our country is going through the most brutal suppression under the democratic mask of “legitimate elections.

"Everyone knows that the basis for the government is not democracy or people’s vote but murder, terrorism, death squads, instilling fear and imported bombs from Iran.

"Previously, many leaders of democratic Parliament committees have demanded a new election to end the violent suppression and brutal acts of the current regime.”

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Detained Iranian an intelligence agent: US general

Wednesday, 03 October 2007
Agence France Presse

BAGHDAD (AFP) — An Iranian arrested by US forces in Iraq's Kurdish region had been involved in Tehran's intelligence operations in Iraq for more than a decade, an American general said on Wednesday.

"Multiple sources" had also implicated him in providing weapons to "Iraqi criminal elements in the service of Iran," US military spokesman Major General Kevin Bergner told a news conference in Baghdad.

On September 20, US troops raided a hotel in Sulaimaniyah in the autonomous northern autonomous region and seized Mahmudi Farhadi, claiming he was a member of the Quds Force, the covert operations arm of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.

Bergner insisted on Wednesday that the detainee was a Quds Force operative.

"Farhadi was the officer in charge of the Zafar command, one of three subordinates of the Ramazan core of the Quds Force," Bergner said.

"As Zafar commander, he was responsible for Quds Force operations in north-central Iraq, including cross border transfers of weapons, people and money.

"We also know that for more than a decade he was involved in Iranian intelligence operations in Iraq," he added, without elaborating.