Mullen Blasts Iran for Interference in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Aug. 2, 2011 — The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today took Iran to task for inter­fer­ing in Iraq to pur­sue “malef­i­cent goals.”
At a news con­fer­ence here, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen blamed Iran for vio­lence he said is meant to under­mine Iraq’s progress.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meets with Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-Mali­ki in Bagh­dad, Aug. 1, 2011.
DOD pho­to by Navy Pet­ty Offi­cer 1st Class Chad J. McNee­ley
Click to enlarge

“The Iran­ian regime con­tin­ues to vio­late Iraqi sov­er­eign­ty by inter­ven­ing in Iraqi social and polit­i­cal affairs, train­ing and equip­ping mili­tias to con­duct attacks on Iraqi soil and thwart­ing efforts by the Iraqi peo­ple to pur­sue unfet­tered the eco­nom­ic growth, devel­op­ment and inde­pen­dence that geog­ra­phy and democ­ra­cy have bestowed upon them,” the chair­man said.

Tehran wants a weak Iraq, behold­en to the Iran­ian world view, Mullen said. “I believe most Iraq’s wish to deter­mine for them­selves their own future and to define for them­selves their own per­spec­tives about the world around them,” he added.

The chair­man praised Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-Mali­ki and Pres­i­dent Jalal Tal­ibani for chal­leng­ing the Iran­ian regime to stop the vio­lence it’s direct­ing inside Iraq. June was a par­tic­u­lar­ly bad month for Amer­i­can forces in Iraq, with 15 killed – most­ly by Iran­ian-backed mili­tias using weapons offi­cials say came direct­ly from Iran.

The Iraqi mil­i­tary has stepped up oper­a­tions in con­cert and coor­di­na­tion with Amer­i­can forces against such Iran­ian-backed groups, Mullen said. “As a result, we have seen a dra­mat­ic reduc­tion in these dead­ly attacks,” he added.

Mean­while, Mullen said, Iraqi lead­ers are meet­ing to decide whether to request con­tin­ued U.S. mil­i­tary assis­tance after the Dec. 31 dead­line for the with­draw­al of Amer­i­can forces under a 2008 strate­gic agree­ment between Iraq and the Unit­ed States.

Mullen, who met with the Iraqi lead­ers last night, said they under­stand the urgency behind mak­ing a deci­sion about some Amer­i­can forces remain­ing in Iraq beyond this year. The Iraqi lead­ers under­stand that U.S. assis­tance can help to bridge gaps in their nation’s secu­ri­ty capa­bil­i­ties, he added.

The Iraqi lead­ers know the Unit­ed States is mov­ing for­ward with the plan to with­draw all forces by the dead­line and that time is run­ning out to decide if they want con­tin­ued Amer­i­can assis­tance, the chair­man said.

“My gov­ern­ment has made it clear that we would enter­tain a request for some troops to stay, and I was encour­aged to learn last night that Iraqi lead­ers plan to meet to dis­cuss the mer­its of such a request,” Mullen said. “I remain hope­ful, there­fore, that we will soon achieve some clar­i­ty. And I am grate­ful that seri­ous attempts to resolve the issue are now under way.”

But what­ev­er Iraqi lead­ers decide, he said, the deci­sion is for Iraq to make and should not be imposed by any out­side pow­er or coun­try. And the Unit­ed States stands ready to con­tin­ue to help Iraq, the chair­man added.

“Noth­ing changes about my military’s ded­i­ca­tion to that goal, or my nation’s ded­i­ca­tion to fur­ther­ing our long-term strate­gic part­ner­ship,” he said. “We have giv­en over thou­sands of our young lives to achieve it, as have you. It is time now not to fin­ish the work, but to con­tin­ue to see it through.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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