Wednesday, December 08, 2004
These accusations made by Jordanian and Iraqi officials that Iran is trying to influence the elections sound bizarre. Let's take it for granted that Iran is, in fact, trying to influence the election. Is "coaching candidates" really scandalous behavior? Spending money on public projects? The latter they did in eastern Afghanistan and we welcomed it as reconstruction aid - there are reasons Ismail Khan liked his Herat gig and why that area of the country was among the most stable. Finally, while sending Iranians to vote in the elections would be a serious problem, the figure quoted - 1 million - sounds ludicrous. There are 70,000,000 people in Iran. Is 1 in every 70 Iranian really willing to pack up and move to Iraq to participate in election rigging on behalf of a regime many of them don't like? And wouldn't the actual Iraqis notice? What we're basically talking about here is Iran taking an interest in the affairs of a neighboring country in which they have vital interests, much like the U.S. and U.K. are. The best way to handle this is simply to do what the Iranians are doing and do it better. Or do members of the Iraqi Interim Government really think foreign influence had nothing to do with their ascent?