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Iran blames the United States for the abduction of a diplomat by men in the uniform of the Iraqi Army, according to state news agency IRNA. ABC reports that Iraqi police captured two men involved in the incident, who got transferred immediately to the custody of the Iraqi Army:
Gunmen wearing Iraqi army uniforms seized an Iranian diplomat as he drove through central Baghdad, officials said Tuesday. Tehran condemned the abduction and blamed U.S. forces in Iraq.
One Iraqi government official also said the diplomat was detained Sunday by a special Iraqi army unit that reports directly to the U.S. military. But a military spokesman denied any U.S. troops or Iraqis that report to them were involved.
"We've checked with our units and it was not an MNF-I (Multi-National Forces Iraq) unit that participated in that event," military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said, adding he could not confirm the diplomat was seized.
Jalal Sharafi, the second secretary at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad was seized Sunday by gunmen who "operate under the supervision of the American forces in Iraq," the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly condemns this aggressive act which is in violation of international law," IRNA quoted Hosseini as saying. "Iran holds American forces in Iraq responsible for the safety and life of the Iranian diplomat."
This sounds a bit fishy. The Iraqi police have not exactly been the model of unbiased enforcement; the Iraqi Army has had to oversee their work and in some cases replace them to bring order. It's certainly possible that the police got the drop on a more-disciplined IA unit, but it doesn't seem terribly likely.
It's also possible that some group has collected enough IA uniforms and equipment to masquerade as a patrol in order to carry out this abduction, assuming it actually happened -- which is still an assumption. The Iranians themselves are suspected of conducting a similar operation against American forces in Karbala last month, killing five Americans in retaliation for the capture of five Iranian agents in Irbil. And yet another possibility is that the abduction really was a covert mission by the US, although the public nature of the abduction makes that a stretch.
If rogue elements of the IA did really abduct an Iranian diplomat, the US will have to answer for the incident. The IA is too closely tied to the US to shrug it off or to claim no responsibility for their actions. However, and this seems pretty critical, the IA is mostly comprised by Shi'ites tied to the Nouri al-Maliki government, which has sought better relations with its neighbor to the East. Shi'ite factions would have little interest in abducting Iranian diplomats, especially since Teheran provides their political leaders with money and weapons.
It's an intriguing situation, if it happened at all, which bears watching over the next few days.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Iranian Diplomat Kidnapped in Iraq from Webloggin
Keep in mind that the ‘embassy’ has not been considered a place of ‘diplomatic immunity’ by Americans and they have removed Iranian military experts from that building. ... [Read More]
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» War in the Shadows? from Public Secrets: from the files of the Irishspy
There's been plenty of evidence in recent months that the US and Iran are fighting a covert war in Iraq -- or, more correctly, the US has decided to fight back against the Iranians, who have been waging a war [Read More]
Tracked on February 7, 2007 12:23 PM
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