News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqBasra authorities move against meddling by Iran; more Iranian...

Basra authorities move against meddling by Iran; more Iranian infiltrators arrested

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Azzaman: Local security forces are reported to have taken unspecified measures to check Iranian influence in southern Iraq, particularly in Basra. Azzaman

By Abed Battat

Local security forces are reported to have taken unspecified measures to check Iranian influence in southern Iraq, particularly in Basra.

Basra, Iraq’s second largest city is said to be almost under the total hegemony of unruly militias financed, armed and commanded by Iranian intelligence agents.

Security and provincial officers, refusing to be named, told Azzaman that they have uncovered “conclusive evidence” pointing to Iran’s interference in the city’s domestic affairs.

“We have at our disposal evidence and documents which confirm compliance by Iranian intelligence organs in the series of violent acts taking place in Basra,” one provincial official said.

Iraqi security forces stormed last week the headquarters of a militant group called the movement of Thaar allah (God’s revenge) and confiscated the contents.

The movement has been blamed for several violent attacks as well as assassinations and kidnapping.

“We have recovered several documents from their (the movement’s) headquarters asserting the involvement of the group in assassinating political figures,” said a security officer on condition his name not be revealed.

Basra’s elected provincial council has passed the information to the central government in Baghdad.

Britain, which has more than 9,000 troops in southern Iraq, has repeatedly complained about Iranian involvement. Tehran denies the accusations.

God’s revenge party does not hide its allegiance to Iran’s clerical rulers.

Major Shiite political factions, which currently dominate the government in Baghdad, were based and backed by Iran before returning to the Iraq following the 2003-U.S.-led invasion.

Their members currently make up the bulk of the country’s nascent security forces, drawing complaints from the minority Arab Sunnis.

Sunni leaders charge that most members of the new army and police are Shiites with loyalty to their political factions rather than the nation.

Major Shiite factions also keep their militias, numbering tens of thousands. These militiamen are said to wield massive power in most of southern Iraq.

Basra council has issued a statement recently urging the inhabitants to report on leaders of groups which it described as “criminal and fake”.

Basra’s Supreme Court has issued orders for the arrest of two leading figures suspected to be behind the escalating violence in the province.

In their recent raids on such factions, the police say they have confiscated weapons, explosives and arrested 50 suspects.

The Ministry of Defense is reportedly tightening patrols along the borders with Iran.

Majid Sari, a senior ministry official, has said that the troops have arrested 9 infiltrators among an alleged terrorist from Afghanistan.

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