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Wednesday, July 20, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Iraq moves to stop 'major escalation' at border
by Iranian military

BAGHDAD — Tension has escalated between Iran and Iraq.


Officials said the Iraqis have been resisting Iranian infiltration in the border area. They said the Iraqis, with help from several ministers, were trying to stop Iranian military operations as well as the entry of Shi'ite pilgrims.

"We are seeing a major escalation that could get out of control of our governments," an official said.

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Iran was said to have been infiltrating Iraq at several points along their 1,000 kilometer border. In the north, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has captured three Kurdish facilities and established a presence 10 kilometers inside Iraq's Kurdistan region, Middle East Newsline reported.

In the Diyala province, Iran was accused of blocking the Wand River, the leading source of water for farmers and communities in the border region. In retaliation, Iraqis, organized by Sunni groups, blocked Iranian pilgrims from entering Iraq and visiting Shi'ite shrines.

"The agricultural situation is the result of the disaster by Iran to cut off the river, which provides water for both drinking and agriculture," Iraqi parliamentarian Yusef Ahmed said.

The largest protest took place at the border point of Al Muntheriya, where more than 1,000 Iranians have been denied entry since July 10. Iraqi police have not tried to disperse the Sunni protesters.

Over the last year, Iraq has sought to resolve several border disputes with Iran. In June, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari asserted that Baghdad and Teheran have achieved "significant progress in the demarcation of land and maritime borders."

Officials said Iran appeared to be exploiting preparations by the U.S. military to withdraw from Iraq over the next five months. They said IRGC has been pouring money and weapons to sustain attacks on U.S. troops and facilities, particularly in the Baghdad area.

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