Iraq proposed an eight-nation conference to discuss infiltration of foreign fighters, and the Islamic Republic agreed to host it. Iraq's five other neighbors and Egypt also will attend, but no date has been set. July 23, 2004 - By offering to host the next summit of security for Iraq, the Islamic regime is signaling its commitment to stopping the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq, the Associated Press reports in a dispatch from Cairo, quoting Iranian analysts who say the regime is concerned about accusations by the US that Iran is hosting terrorists, including al-Qaeda leaders.
Last week, Iraqi defense minister and Iraq’s ambassador to Washington accused the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of having infiltrated Iraqi organs. There were other reports about IRGC’s backing for insurgent Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr.
“The new cooperation also shows just how much fear there is of an unstable Iraq, a stronger Islamic extremist network and an angry United States in a region where regimes often shelter each other's opponents,” AP adds.
“Iran wants to show that it is willing to have a better and more positive position on Iraq,” Saeed Laylaz (Leylaz), a political and security analyst in Tehran, tells AP. “It is, of course, a message to the new Iraqi government and the United States (that) al-Qaida is a threat ... but it is also a card in a game ... (in which) we are trying to keep a very sensitive balance.”
Laylaz noted Iran, Iraq and Turkey all have political, ethnic and religious interests in Iraq and a history of supporting each other's opposition groups.
“They are all strong enough to destabilize each other, and they are all threatened by al-Qaida," he said.
It is in their interest, he said, “to keep each other peaceful and satisfied.”
Davoud Hermidas Bavand, a professor of international law and a former Iranian diplomat, said holding the meeting in Iran indicates Tehran can play a key role in Iraq's political development.
Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said Arab leaders welcomed Iraq's proposal for cooperation because they know that giving militants full rein to flourish now could hurt them in the future.
“They recognize that the situation can backfire on them. There is a limit on how far they can be indifferent,” Zebari said.
In the meantime, Zebari said, Iraq will continue to insist on other, unspecified steps to stem the flow of foreign fighters.
“All of them accepted to work with us on this issue, so it's up to us, really, to go back to them and approach them specifically on our requirements,” he said. “And I think they will cooperate.”