Iran still training Shi'ites in Iraq with focus on January elections
BAGHDAD — The U.S. military has reported that Iran continues to
train and equip Shi'ite insurgents in neighboring Iraq.
Officials said the U.S. military has accumulated evidence of Iranian
training and equipping of Shi'ite insurgents in Iraq throughout 2009. They
said most of the Iraqi insurgents were invited to camps in the Teheran area
for training and indoctrination.
"It is more targeted now than it has ever been," U.S. military commander
in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, said.
In a briefing on July 28, Odierno said Iran has renewed intervention in
Iraq. The general said Teheran's aim was to influence Iraqi national
elections in January 2010.
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"They are focused on their attempt to influence the national elections
that will come up," Odierno said. "They will be very focused on trying to
support a government that will be more friendly to Iran."
The U.S. military assessment was relayed amid a reconciliation effort
toward Teheran by the administration of President Barack Obama. Officials
said the administration has determined that Iran marked a crucial element in
a smooth U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.
But officials said Iran, after a lull of several months, renewed
military support to Shi'ite insurgency groups in 2009. They said Iran
conducted a reassessment in wake of a U.S. security agreement for a
withdrawal from Iraq by 2012.
The U.S. military has agreed to enhance security along the Iraqi border
with Iran. Officials said the Iraq Army has requested U.S. surveillance
systems and unmanned aerial vehicles for border security operations.
"The Iranians took time to see where the U.S. was heading and whether
the withdrawal would really begin," an official said. "When Iran saw that we
were serious, it intensified meddling in the affairs of the Baghdad