Hundreds of leaked Iranian intelligence documents have shed light on a shadow war for regional influence.
Monday’s reports on a trove of leaked cables expose Tehran’s vast influence in Iraq, detailing the painstaking efforts of Iranian spies to co-opt Iraqi leaders and infiltrate every aspect of political life. Tehran’s influence has fueled ongoing anti-government protests in Iraq.
The trove consists of roughly 700 pages of reports and cables written mainly in 2014 and 2015 by officers in Iran’s version of the CIA who were based in Iraq.
“These documents are horrifying,” Baria Alamuddin, a writer and expert in Middle Eastern affairs, told Arab News.
“Yet in a sense there’s almost nothing here that Iraq experts didn’t know very well already: That most of Iraq’s leadership, whatever their affiliation, is wholly in Iran’s pocket; that Iran bankrolled the mass murder and sectarian cleansing of sizable areas of Iraq under the pretense of fighting Daesh; and that Iran today is bribing Iraqi politicians in order to extend its dominance over the Iraqi economy. None of this is any longer deniable.”
The documents were sent anonymously to The Intercept, which shared them with the New York Times. Both publications verified the documents’ authenticity but do not know who leaked them.
In encrypted messages, the anonymous source said he or she wanted to “let the world know what Iran is doing in my country Iraq.”
Rahman Al-Jobouri, a senior fellow at the Institute of Regional and International Studies at the American University of Iraq Sulaimani, told Arab News: “Nothing new has been revealed by the New York Times’ report. The men of the Iraqi government are openly associated with Iran.”
He said: “Actually, some of them consider Iran their first state, and any action they do (in its favor) is legitimate and legal, and nothing should be hidden from it.”
The leaked documents “are introductions to penalties that would be imposed on certain persons,” he added.
“It’s also a message sent by the US to say everything is being monitored by us in Iraq. We watch and use the information as and when we need.”
Alamuddin said the evidence “provides a cast-iron case against (Iranian Maj. Gen.) Qassim Soleimani and his associates for complicity in war crimes, in addition to recent evidence about his oversight of the deliberate killings of Iraqi protestors.”
She added: “Iraqis deserve to see these figures hauled before the International Criminal Court, perhaps in addition to the establishment of a special commission to investigate Iran’s role in sponsoring paramilitary violence and compromising the sovereign independence of multiple Arab states.”
Alamuddin said: “The only question here is what the world will do with this information — from the horse’s mouth — which provides irrefutable proof of Iran’s ambitions to dominate the entire region.”