The comments by Mowaffak al-Rubaie contradict one of the top messages the Bush administration has been sending to the world in recent days.According to Iraq's top spook, then, it was only ever a case of Quds helping one militia group, not the widespread meddling alleged by the Bush administration. And now they've stopped. Meanwhile, the Iranian leadership is, according to the same man, more than happy to see the US defeat Al Qaeda and bring peace to Iraq.
"In the last few weeks, they have changed their position, and they stopped a lot of their tactics and a lot of intervention or interference in the Iraqi internal affairs," al-Rubaie told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."
Asked whether he believes Iranians have stopped interfering and providing military resources or training to groups within the country, al-Rubaie responded, "That is absolutely right."
Al-Rubaie is a member of the Shiite parliamentary bloc, which has close ties to Iran.
President Bush has complained that Iran's Quds Force -- a paramilitary arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards -- has helped orchestrate attacks on Iraqi and U.S. forces inside Iraq. Top administration officials have hammered that message in recent days.
Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of the U.S.-led forces in Iraq, said Thursday, "The bottom line is that we believe that the Quds Force has been involved in training and possibly providing funding and potentially weapons to some groups within Iraq. So we watch that extremely carefully."
Vice President Dick Cheney, on a trip to Australia last week, was asked about Iran's interference in Iraq. "It's been a problem," he responded.
Cheney added, "We've made it clear we believe they have engaged in providing improvised explosive devices, for example, to insurgents inside Iraq that have been used against coalition forces. And of course, we've taken action recently to crack down on identifiable ... Iranian agents operating inside Iraq and made it clear that we think that their conduct there has been inappropriate."
Al-Rubaie said there is evidence that the Quds Force was supporting "some militia group, a Shia group in Iraq."
But he said, "They recently -- in the last few weeks, they have changed their position." They have "advised some of their allies in the Iraqi political arena to change their position and [start] supporting the government to give the Baghdad security plan a good chance of success. And I believe, I honestly believe, that they do not mind if the United States and the American Army and the Iraqi security forces succeed and prevail in Baghdad and defeat terrorism in Iraq."
Tehran has denied interfering in Iraq.
(Of course the neocons will say "but he's a Shiite!", thus condemning without cause over 143 million people worldwide.)
With this statement by al-Rubaie and the recent White House retreat from their position that the Iranian leadership were intimately involved in arming all and sundry throughout Iraq (complete with throwing an anonymous briefer under the bus) can we now acknowledge that this particular narrative for some longed-for causus belli on the part of the neocons is dead in the water?
Which leaves the war party with only their "nookclee-ar bommmbs!" hysteria - and that's on shaky footing too.
Update A J Strata is hard of hearing or suffering from neocon wistfullness. Ira n, Iraq, what's in a single letter?.