Daily Telegraph: As the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, comes West for the first time, the Middle East is in turmoil. All its problems have one common feature – Iran. Teheran’s mullahs have spread their evil influence in all areas, directly and indirectly. Daily Telegraph
By Struan Stevenson
As the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, comes West for the first time, the Middle East is in turmoil. All its problems have one common feature – Iran. Teheran’s mullahs have spread their evil influence in all areas, directly and indirectly.
A year ago, the Iranian opposition leader, Maryam Rajavi, told the European Parliament that, by propelling Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency, supreme leader Ali Khamenei had declared war on his own people and on the world community. Events have proved her right.
Teheran’s strategic battleground is Iraq, with the world’s second largest oil reserves and a majority Shia population. Teheran has already spent billions of dollars in Iraq and dispatched thousands of intelligence agents and Revolutionary Guards to aid the insurgency. Iranian agents have infiltrated various Iraqi security organisations. According to American military sources, Iran has been the main source of explosive devices that have taken a heavy toll on coalition forces.
Teheran finances and organises terror groups that target intellectuals and anti-fundamentalist figures. The mullahs have launched an unrelenting campaign against the presence of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), the principal Iranian opposition movement, in Ashraf City in Iraq. There, several thousand anti-fundamentalist Iranians espouse a tolerant, democratic Islam, which is the antithesis of the ayatollahs’ extremism.
When it was announced that 5.2 million Iraqis (Shias, Sunnis and Kurds) had signed a petition protesting against Iranian involvement in Iraq and supporting the PMOI, Teheran’s campaign took on a sinister new dimension.
The mullahs urged the Iraqi government to expel the PMOI from Ashraf. In May, a bus carrying Iraqi citizens working there was blown up, resulting in 11 deaths. Last week, agents of the Iranian regime twice blew up the water supply from the Tigris River to Ashraf.
The Middle East problem is complex, but Iraq is where the West should confront the mullahs. Focus anywhere else and we will fall into the trap that Teheran has set for us. Mr al-Maliki should be vigilant to the ploys and pressures of the Iranian regime.
It would be a grave and strategic mistake by the new Iraqi government to kowtow to Teheran. This trip provides an excellent opportunity to the Iraqi PM to demonstrate that he will stand firm against any meddling from Teheran.
Struan Stevenson MEP (Con), Co-President, Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup, Brussels