BAGHDAD, Iraq (AFP) — Hundreds of leaked Iranian intelligence reports reveal the depth of Tehran’s influence in neighboring, protest-torn Iraq, The New York Times and The Intercept reported Monday.
The U.S. newspaper and the online news publication said they had verified around 700 pages of reports written mainly in 2014 and 2015 by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, which were sent to The Intercept anonymously.
The secret source, who declined to meet with a reporter in person, said he or she wanted to “let the world know what Iran is doing in my country Iraq.”
Iraq has close but complicated ties with both Iran, its large eastern neighbor, and the United States, Iran’s archenemy.
The documents “offer a detailed portrait of just how aggressively Tehran has worked to embed itself into Iraqi affairs, and of the unique role of General (Qasem) Soleimani,” the outlets wrote.
Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, is Tehran’s point man on Iraq and travels there frequently during times of political turmoil.
Amid Iraq’s largest and deadliest protests in decades, Soleimani has chaired meetings in Baghdad and Najaf in recent weeks to persuade political parties to close rank around Iraqi premier Adel Abdel Mahdi.
In one of the Iranian leaks, Abdel Mahdi is described as having a “special relationship” with Tehran when he was Iraq’s oil minister in 2014.
The prime minister’s office said it had no comment on the report.
The reports also named former prime ministers Haider al-Abadi and Ibrahim al-Jafari as well as former speaker of parliament Salim al-Jabouri as politicians with close Iran links.
According to the Times, Tehran was able to gain much more access after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, which it said left Iraqi assets of the Central Intelligence Agency “jobless and destitute.”
They then turned to Iran, offering information on the CIA’s operations in Iraq in exchange for money, the report said.
In one incident, an Iraqi military intelligence officer traveled from Baghdad to meet with an Iranian intelligence official in Iraq’s holy city of Karbala.
During the three-hour meeting, the Iraqi official said his boss, Lieutenant General Hatem al-Maksusi, had told him to pass on the message to Iran that “all of the Iraqi Army’s intelligence — consider it yours.”
Al-Maksusi also offered to give Iran information about a covert system established by the United States to eavesdrop on Iraqi phones, run by the premier’s office and military intelligence, the reports said.
© Agence France-Presse