A former member of Iraq’s Parliament says Iran is using Iraq as a channel to transport fighters and weapons to Syria, according to an article published in ‘The Algemeiner,’ a New York-based weekly newspaper.
Mithal al-Alusi, the former Iraqi member of Parliament, told ‘The Algemeiner’ that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last month, is being used as a “tool of Iran.” Alusi said since the U.S. troop withdrawal in December, Iraq has become increasingly dominated by Iran.
In an exclusive interview with contributing writer Heather Robinson, Alusi said that Iraq’s Central Bank processed hundreds of millions of dollars a day more than usual back in February, and that, according to his sources within the bank, Iran’s agents were behind this financial maneuvering.
Alusi also said that, according to sources within the Iraqi intelligence community, the same individuals who were “buying hundreds of millions of dollars in cash” from Iraq’s Central Bank were arranging for these dollars to be carried from Iraq into Syria, and then transported to Iran in order to skirt the U.S.-led sanctions.
“We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in cash going in to Syria–in suitcases–and then it goes to Iran,” he told Robinson for the article.
Alusi also told ‘The Algemeiner” that many of the banks in Iraq are under Iranian control or influence. “We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in cash going in to Syria–in suitcases–and then it goes to Iran”, said Mithal al-Alusi.
“In Iraq, [if] you have 2.3 million dollars you can make a bank,” he said. “Iranian intelligence did this. There are a few private banks in Iraq, and mostly they belong to Iraqi politicians and Iranian intelligence.”
Alusi served two terms in Iraq’s Parliament and has been an outspoken advocate of normalized relations between Iraq and Israel.
He says Iran’s agents are transporting materials that appear to be weapons on “buses” to Syria via Iraq.
It is just the latest, he charges, in a litany of Iranian abuses against his country and its people including money-laundering, sponsoring of terrorism, and bribery of Iraqi politicians, all of which have intensified, he says, since the U.S. troop withdrawal.
Alusi, a Sunni Muslim, has a history of voicing controversial views, as well as of making decisions that have frequently angered extremists.
In 2004, while serving as a leader in Iraq’s national commission for de-Ba’athification, he traveled to Israel to attend a counter-terrorism conference. Upon his return, terrorists murdered his two sons, Ayman, 30, and Gamal, 22, and one of their bodyguards in revenge for Alusi’s decision to travel to Israel. Minutes after the attack, he told reporters, “Even if these terrorists try to kill me again, peace is the only solution. Peace with Israel is the only solution for Iraq. Peace with everybody, but no peace for the terrorists.”
Elected to Iraq’s Parliament as an independent in 2005, he promoted counter-terrorism cooperation among Iraq, Israel, and other democracies and decried Iran’s interference in allegedly peddling influence with Iraqi politicians.
Many Iraqi politicians are afraid to reject Iran’s alleged bribes, according to Alusi.
“My people, I believe they are good,” he told Robinson. “Iraqi politicians—many of them—either are under Iranian control, or they have problems. If you are against them they are fighting you and kicking you into a corner, if they don’t kill you.”
In February, Alusi survived an assassination attempt by two armed gunmen.
Still, he resists caving in to Iran’s and its extremist supporters’ agenda because he has already lost so much, he said.
“Maybe because I lost my sons, maybe because of that,” he refuses to cooperate, he said. “[But] can I tell other politicians …‘Let them kill your family?’ They are afraid.”
Alusi would like to see President Obama acknowledge that all is not well in Iraq, and to “take his historic responsibility” to stand up to Iran, he said.
Thanks for reading Eurasia Review. For more of our reporting make sure to sign up for our free newsletter!