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Report: Iraq PM 'Invites' Iran to Seize US Embassy in Baghdad

Iraq allegedly has agreed to allow 50,000 Iranian Basij militia to help suppress riots against the government and seize the US embassy.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 2/10/2013, 9:14 AM

Grieving for Iranian dissidents in Iraq
Grieving for Iranian dissidents in Iraq
Reuters

 Iraq allegedly has agreed to allow 50,000 Iranian Basij militia troops into the country to help suppress riots against the government and seize Arab and other foreign embassies, including that of the United States. The two leaders allegedly agreed to allow the Basij forces to attack and occupy the foreign embassies considered hostile to Iran in Baghdad, and to detain their staffs.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Iranian military commander Qassaem Soleimani, head of Iran's Al Qods Force, allegedly shook hands on the plan over the weekend at a meeting in Baghdad.  Pledging 50,000 Basij military troops to help al-Maliki put down the nationwide riots against his government, Soleimani was quoted as saying "the Iraqi Front is the last front to defend the security of Iran."

The report, which appeared Saturday on the Voice of Iraq website and that of the Nashwan News, apparently offered enough evidence to create concern among analysts in the United States. “Even if there is a slim chance that the report is true, it should be published immediately,” commented U.S.-based Middle East strategy expert Mark Langfan.

U.S. embassies have become an increasingly popular target for disgruntled Islamists who wish to whip up popular support, attempt to terrorize Western leaderships or terrorize a local population into submission, such as last year's September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which four American diplomats were killed -- including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

In 1979, Iranian radical Islamists seized the American Embassy in Tehran and took 52 hostages captive on November 4 to express their support of the Iranian Revolution. A U.S. attempt to rescue the hostages on April 24, 1980 ended in failure and the deaths of eight American soldiers, one Iranian civilian and the destruction of two U.S. aircraft. Three months later, Iraq invaded Iran, leading to negotiations between the U.S. and Iran for release of the hostages, brokered by Algeria. The hostages were not freed until January 1981.

The current alleged Iranian-Iraqi plot has been hatched against the backdrop of a greater strategy to put down Sunni-led popular protests against the Shi'ite-led government run by al-Maliki, who heads the Shi'ite Islamic Dawa Party. A source quoted by Nashwan News reported, “after control of the embassies and the detention of its staff, go some Iranian forces (Basij) to the north and west of Iraq for the purpose of suppression of the demonstrators by force.”

At least six people were killed and 100 others wounded, including women, in a dawn attack on the Camp Liberty transit camp west of Baghdad that once was a U.S. Army base near Baghdad International Airport. At least 40 Iranian Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) members were among the wounded, along with a number of Iraqi police officers.

Attackers fired 35 mortar shells and Katyusha rockets at the camp, said a statement issued by the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI), known also as the MEK. Supporters in London demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy on Saturday following news of the dead and wounded in the attack on the Iranian dissident camp in the Iraqi capital, police sources said.

The camp is home to some 3,000 Iranian dissidents, mostly members of the MEK led by Maryam Rajavi. The group calls for the overthrow of Iran's Islamic leadership. It was founded as the MKO in 1965 to overthrow the Shah of Iran, and fought alongside Iraqi forces in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Iran's religious sector and government have been held under the iron grip of Shi'ite Islamic clerics since the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack, calling on Iraqi authorities to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. The Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations is currently in the process of determining whether the camp’s residents meet criteria for refugee status.