Positions expressed by the Iraqi defense minister, who accused the Islamic government of fomenting chaos in Iraq, may have instigated the kidnapping of the Iranian consul in Karbala, former diplomat and Tehran University professor Davood Hermidas Bavand tells Radio Farda. August 15, 2004 - In demanding the release of 500 Iraqi prisoners of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war in exchange for abducted Iranian consul in Karbala Fereydoun Jahani, the kidnappers echo the positions expressed in the past few weeks by Iraqi defense minister Hazim al-Shaalan, according to former diplomat Davood Hermidas-Bavand, who teaches international relations at the University of Tehran. “There are no POWs in Iran. This has been confirmed by the International Red Cross and by the Saddam Hussein government. The 500 whose release have been demanded are probably the POWs who joined the armed forces of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq (SCIRI), who returned to Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein,” Bavand tells Radio Farda’s broadcaster Siavash Ardalan. “There demand, which has no basis, only heightens the position taken against Iran by some in the new Iraqi government, positions which are reminders of the rhetoric of the Saddam regime,” he adds. “There may not be any systemic relations between the kidnappers and the defense minister, but both are reviving an old view,” he says. “The kidnapping only confirms that when a society becomes insecure, it becomes insecure for everyone, not just for certain groups,” he adds. “An anti-Islamic Republic movement is rising in Iraq, which may only result in marginalizing Iraqi Shiites, and prevent them from gaining the upper hand which they logically deserve in a democratically elected system of government, he says. Iraq’s neighbors may be indirectly behind the kidnapping of the man, because none of Iraq’s neighbors, including Syria and Saudi Arabia, want Iran to have a dominant influence in Iraq, Bavand says. The US has somehow linked the radical Shiite movement in Iraq to the Islamic government, and for that reason, the forces active in Iraq have taken a relatively confrontational position towards Iran, Bavand adds.