Leaked Iranian intelligence documents revealed the extent of Iranian interference and penetration within the Iraqi regime and its decision-makers. The document shows the close relations between senior officials in Iraq and the Iranian authorities, especially as the latter sought through its spies to choose the country’s leaders and recruit agents inside the Iraqi authorities. The unprecedented secret leak, which dates back to 2014, was obtained by the American news site „The Intercept“ and published by The New York Times.
It shows that most of Iraq’s political, military, and security officials have had secret connections with Tehran. The same 2014 cable named several key members of the cabinet of former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi as having close ties with Iran.
It also illustrates the volume of Iranian intelligence work that took years to enable Tehran’s spies to identify Iraqi leaders, pay salaries to Iraqis working for the Americans, and push them to change loyalties, as well as Tehran’s ongoing operations to infiltrate every aspect of political, economic and religious life in Iraq.
A political analyst and adviser on Iraq to Iran’s government, Gheis Ghoreishi, confirmed that Iran has focused on cultivating ties with high-level officials in Iraq. “We have a good number of allies among Iraqi leaders who we can trust with our eyes closed,” he said.
Meetings are arranged in dark alleyways and shopping malls or under the cover of a hunting excursion or a birthday party. Informants lurk at the Baghdad airport, snapping pictures of US soldiers and keeping tabs on coalition military flights. Iraqi officials, if necessary, are offered bribes. The archive even contains expense reports from intelligence ministry officers in Iraq.
According to one of the leaked Iranian intelligence cables, Mr. Mahdi, who in exile worked closely with Iran while Saddam Hussein was in power in Iraq, had a “special relationship with the I.R.I.” — the Islamic Republic of Iran — when he was Iraq’s oil minister in 2014. The exact nature of that relationship is not detailed in the cable.
Officers from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence are working closely with the Iranian Republic Guards in Iraq and they share their findings and information with their commanders in Iran, which they document in reports to the Supreme National Security Council. Cultivating Iraqi officials was a key part of their job, and it was made easier by the alliances many Iraqi leaders forged with Iran when they belonged to opposition groups fighting Saddam Hussein, according to recent leaks.
Dr. Omar Abdel Sattar, an expert in international relations, told MENA Media Monitor that the timing of leaking the documents is very important, because it came in conjunction with the popular uprisings, whether in Iraq, Iran or Lebanon. It is that the Revolutionary Guards, its arms and its militias are a political class no longer fitting in the coming era, and therefore all its secrets must be revealed.
“I know that my country is already occupied in one way or another by Iran and therefore now it must be liberated,” he said in an exclusive interview. “Its liberation means the displacement of the ruling political class that has come since 2003, which the intifada has said.”
Based on the leak, Abdul Sattar believes that “a list from the US or the UN Security Council will be issued against them, and it will increase the uprising insistence and firmness that this class no longer has a place in Iraq.”
He pointed out that “the uprising emerged as a political player rival to the government of the popular mobilization known as al-Hashd, and this means that this new rival (meaning the Iraqi uprising) is expected to displace the Sadrists and Badrians or will marginalize their role in the coming period.”
Abdul Sattar believes that most of this latest classified information is clear and well known, but leaking it at this time will open doors and strengthen the popular movement, these confidential documents will twist the arm of those involved, will break their will, and loosen their grip on power and this will make it easy for Iraqis to remove them.
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