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Iraq: Government To Compile Evidence Of Alleged Iranian 'Interference'

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (AFP) Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has ordered the formation of a committee to compile evidence of what has been described as Iranian "interference" in Iraq.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on May 4 that Iraq has experienced Iranian interference in the past but "also experienced a positive role from Iran."

Al-Dabbagh added that evidence gathered by the panel, which will include representatives of the country's security ministries, will be presented to Iranian officials.

But Mustafa Alani, the director of security and terrorism studies at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai, questioned the committee's creation and its mandate. He said there is no doubt about the Iranian involvement and there is no need to create a panel to prove it.

"This panel will bring no result for a very simple reason -- because the party in power [in Iraq] is all involved in receiving support from Iranians and I don't think they are ready to expose themselves by giving this sort of information," Alani said.

The real information, according to Alani, is in the hands of Shi'ite militias who will not share it with the panel. He noted that U.S. officials have insisted "for the past four years that the Iranian involvement is very clear and that they are supporting terrorist groups," but that Iraq's government has hastily dismissed such claims.

Alani suggested that the al-Maliki government's recent interest lies in "exposing" the activities of radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his sympathizers while not drawing attention to groups that are "part of the government."

Iran and the United States have held three rounds of ambassador-level talks in Iraq on security since last May.

However, Iran's Foreign Ministry has said it will not hold any new round of talks with the United States on security in Iraq until U.S. forces end their current operation against Shi'ite fighters loyal to al-Sadr.

Alani said Arab countries share U.S. concern because of suspicions that Iranian money, weapons, and intelligence go to armed Shi'ite groups in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military announced that some 10 people were killed in overnight fighting between U.S. forces and Shi'ite militiamen in Baghdad, six of them in al-Sadr's stronghold of Al-Sadr City.