U.S. Accuses Iran of Trying to Influence Iraq's Election
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis accused Iran on Thursday of “mucking around” in Iraq’s May parliamentary election, in which Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is seeking another term after a successful, U.S.-backed war against Islamic State militants, Reuters reported.
The ballot will decide Iraq’s leader for the next four years, when Baghdad will be faced with rebuilding cities and towns seized from Islamic State, preventing the militants’ return and addressing the sectarian and economic divisions that fueled the conflict.
Among Abadi’s challengers are former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Hadi al-Amiri, a former transportation minister – both of whom are among Iran’s closest allies in neighboring Iraq.
Mattis stopped short of detailing whom Iran sought to influence but said it was doing so by channeling cash into Iraqi politics.
“We have worrisome evidence that Iran is trying to influence - using money - the Iraqi elections. That money is being used to sway candidates, to sway votes,” Mattis told reporters as he flew back to Washington after a trip to the Middle East and Afghanistan.
“It’s not an insignificant amount of money, we believe. And we think it’s highly unhelpful.”
There was no immediate comment from Iran, which has in the past denied interfering in Iraq.
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