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Cablegate: Prime Minister Accuses Iran of Trying To

DE RUEHGB #2569 2671351
P 241351Z SEP 09 ZDK

S E C R E T BAGHDAD 002569


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/24/2029

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Hill for reasons 1.5 b,d

SUBJ: Prime Minister Accuses Iran of Trying to Destabilize

1. (S) In a September 22 meeting, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki told the Ambassador that Iran is intervening
increasingly boldly in the Iraqi political process in a bid
to "control the COR" (the Council of Representatives, the
Iraqi Parliament). Iran has not discarded use of military
means to attain its objectives, Maliki said, but for now it
is focusing on political means. If Iran does not succeed in
influencing the upcoming Iraqi national elections, Maliki
said, he expects to see them return to military actions.
Maliki said that the Iranian initiative was thwarted -- dealt
a "fatal blow" -- by Dawa's refusal to join the Shi,a
alliance being forged for the elections (the Iraqi National
Alliance). Iran, he said, is trying to rally the Shi'a to
counter the "Saudi project" to align the Sunni states. But
if Dawa had joined the Shi'a alliance, he said, that "could
have led to sectarian strife."

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2. (S) Maliki said that Iran is using the Saudi efforts as
pretext to continue its intervention in Iraq. On September
21, for example, the Saudis sponsored a meeting in Amman at
which at least ten senior Iraqi Sunnis attended, including
Rafi al-Issawi. While in Washington, Maliki said, he asked
POTUS to intervene with Saudi Arabia to ask them to stop
their efforts at rallying the Sunni, in part precisely to
avoid inflaming sectarianism and to deny Iran that pretext
for similarly seeking to rally the Shi,a. Maliki's concerns
in this regard have not abated, he said. He chose not to
press this issue again with VPOTUS during his September 18
visit to Baghdad because he felt he had expressed his
concerns once and it was not necessary to continue to raise
the same issue.

3. (S) Turning to the Mujahedin el Khalkh (MEK), the
Ambassador urged Maliki not to take any provocative actions
prior to the elections. Maliki took this point on board, but
replied by asking what outcome the USG sees, and how long
this situation can go on. Ambassador stressed that a.) the
situation "won't go on forever," b.) the USG has sent a
"stern message" to the MEK that they must deal directly with
the GOI, not the USG, and c.) the U.S. base near the MEK camp
will eventually be closing. The USG has urged the Europeans
to take a similar stance, and is seeking greater United
Nations involvement in treating the MEK as refugees. Maliki
replied that the GOI "has to do something" so that it can say
it has started the process. Otherwise, he said, this issue
will be used against him in the elections. In Maliki's view,
"whoever wants to return to their country can do so." The
rest, he said, should be relocated away from the Iranian
border, to protect them and Iraq from Iranian pressure.
Iran, Maliki said, at one time was even contemplating a
long-range missile strike on the camp, and even today is
considering filing a case against Iraq for "harboring a
terrorist organization." The GOI must try to relocate "at
least 1,000" members before the end of the year, Maliki said,
returning to his theme that the GOI must do something prior
to the elections. Ambassador emphasized that any attempt to
forcibly remove members could lead to bloodshed and crisis,
and again urged Maliki not to do so. Maliki said he felt
most members would willingly relocate. Only the leadership
of the group objects, and they are "criminals."

4. (S) Comment: Maliki,s comments regarding Iranian
Q4. (S) Comment: Maliki,s comments regarding Iranian
involvement in internal Iraqi affairs are the strongest we
have heard. The Shi,a alliance INA is under considerable
pressure from the Iranians to persuade or even threaten
Maliki,s Dawa party to join the alliance, but on terms
unfavorable or unsatisfactory to either Dawa or Maliki. He
anticipates that if he pursues his non-sectarian State of Law
alliance, he will encounter not only stiff resistance from
the INA but also heavy and active opposition from the
Iranians. Regarding MEK, while it appears that the GOI will
not move immediately after Ramadan against the camp,s
residents, the eventual transfer operation will likely occur
before the end of the year. We will continue to advocate
patience, direct GOI-MEK negotiation for a peaceful transfer
and involvement of an international organization. End

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