AFP: Iran is sending money and arms into neighboring Iraq to try to influence the outcome of elections there in January, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Monday.
Iran, as a predominantly Shiite country that fought a war with Iraq in the 1980s, has a big interest in what happens in Iraq,
he said. AFP

NEW YORK - Iran is sending money and arms into neighboring Iraq to try to influence the outcome of elections there in January, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Monday.

Iran, as a predominantly Shiite country that fought a war with Iraq in the 1980s, has a big interest in what happens in Iraq, he said.

But it is engaged in "a lot of meddling," Rumsfeld said in a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations, a non-partisan foreign policy group here.

"They clearly want to affect the outcome of the election, and they are aggressively trying to do that," he said. "They're sending money in.They're sending weapons in. And they're notably unhelpful."

Rumsfeld also said Iran had a "funny" relationship with Al-Qaeda, the militant Islamist group led by Osama bin Laden that is believed to have carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

"There have been a lot of Al-Qaeda, senior Al-Qaeda, in and out of that country over time," he said. "Do I know for sure that they were facilitated or that they were authorized? No, I don't. But we do know that there have been a lot of senior Al-Qaeda that have moved in and out of Iran over a period of time."

But he said the senior Al-Qaeda figures who are now in Iran do not appear "fully free to do anything they want at the moment."

"I don't know quite what that means. I don't think they're in prison cells," he said. "But it may be that they are managing the senior Al-Qaeda that are in their country at the present time in a way that they hope might benefit them."