TEHRAN, 3 Jan. (IPS) In a protest move against the Jordanian Kingdom, Iran said on Monday that it does not think holding a conference of Iraq’s neighbours was necessary.
"We don't believe there's a need for such a meeting now, at least not before the elections” in Iraq, scheduled for the end of January, Iranian Ambassador to Amman Mohammad Irani said.
The statement was made one day after Tehran announced that it would not send its Foreign Affairs Minister to the meeting.
We don't believe there's a need for such a meeting now, at least not before the elections in Iraq.
Jordan has invited the foreign ministers of Iraq's other neighbours, namely Iran, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria, as well as representatives from Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain to the meeting.
The U.N. special representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, also will attend
Iran decided to downgrade its representation at the ministerial meeting to protest accusations by Jordan's monarch that Iran was trying to influence the upcoming Iraqi elections.
King Abdullah charged last month that more than 1 million Iranians had entered Iraq, many to vote in the elections, and said they were being encouraged by the Iranian government.
Though the King failed to back up his accusations, but analysts said he was reflecting the same uneasiness seen in other Arab nations that are afraid of a Shi’ite victory in the next Iraqi elections and a possible confederation between Iran and Iraq, the two countries where the Shi’ites are in majority.
Although the Shi’ites have long constituted the majority in Iraq, but not only the governance of the nation was in the hands of the Sunni minority, they were badly repressed and massacred by the deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.
Iranians ridiculed the charges, saying either the Jordanian Monarch does not know counting or he is totally out of his mind.
“Rich as he is, he might have mistaken one million men with one million dollars”, one Iranian analyst said mockingly, while officials rejected Abdullah's comments as an insult to the Iraqi people and said they showed the Jordanian king's "ignorance" of the situation in Iraq.
“The Foreign Affairs Minister will definitely not go to Amman, but we shall send a delegation in proportion to the importance of the meeting”, Mr. Hamid Reza Asefi, the Ministry’s official spokesman told journalists on Sunday.
"What are we going to talk about? We discussed everything we needed to discuss in the November meeting," Irani added, referring to a ministerial meeting in Egypt.
Last month, Iran hosted a meeting of interior ministers and security officials from Iraq's neighbors and Egypt to discuss the infiltration of terrorists into Iraq. The Jordanian interior minister attended the meeting, which ended with a commitment to boost cooperation on border control and to combat the transfer of money that finances terrorist activities.
Arab nations are afraid of a Shi’ite victory in the next Iraqi elections and a possible alliance between Iran and Iraq.
“Considering the timing and the situation, the real question is what would be the utility and importance of this conference. However, since we attach importance to the Iraqi question and as a country that initiated such meetings, we decided to take part, but at an appropriate level”, Mr. Asefi explained.
Asked about the Jordanian accusations against Iran, he repeated that Iran is not interfering in Iraq’s affairs. “We think that the security and peace of Iraq is important for peace and security of both the region and Iran”, Mr. Asefi added, accusing the Jordanians of “collaboration” with deposed Iraqi personalities.
“Those who meet secretly the Iraqi Ba’thists are not well placed to accuse other nations of interfering in Iraq’s affairs”, he said, adding the charges against Iran come from Zionist sources.
“After being deceived on the nuclear problem, the Zionists are looking to other pretexts. The question of Iran being involved in Iraq is one of these fabricated scenarios”, he pointed out. ENDS IRAQ ELECTIONS 3105