Iraq's interim defense minister says Iran is ”number one enemy”
Iraq's interim defense minister on Wednesday accused Iran and Syria of supporting "terrorists" in his country and charged that a senior Iraqi Shiite was leading a "pro-Iranian" coalition into next month's national elections.
Hazem Shaalann, who has previously accused Tehran of interfering in Iraq's internal affairs, said that Iranian and Syrian intelligence agents, plus former operatives from the Baath security forces, are cooperating with al-Qaeda group in Iraq led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi "to run criminal operations in Iraq."
Shaalan told reporters that Iraqi authorities obtained information about Tehran's role in Iraq after last month's arrest of the leader of the Jaish Mohammed group during U.S.-led operations in Fallujah. "When we arrested the commander of Jaish Mohammed we discovered that key to terrorism is in Iran, which this the number one enemy for Iraq," Shaalan said.
Shaalan accused Syria and Iran of providing funds and training for al-Qaeda in Iraq. They are fighting us because we want to build freedom and democracy and they want to build an Islamic dictatorship and have turbaned clerics to rule in Iraq," he said.
In the past, Iran and Syria have rejected U.S. and Iraqi claims they are supporting resistance fighters in Iraq.
Shaalan also attacked nuclear physicist, Hussain al-Shahristani, the "architect" of a leading coalition of Shiite parties called the United Iraqi Alliance, describing him as the "leader of an Iranian list" that wants Iraq to be run similar to Iran.