Former Iraqi Parliamentarian Mithal al Alusi contacted me by phone last week to report that, according to “good sources,” U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to meet soon with Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Alusi, who served two terms in Iraq’s Parliament and has promoted normalized relations between Iraq and Israel, has frequently been prescient in alerting the West about developments in Iraq. Last April, he told this reporter that Iraqi politicians were participating in large scale money-laundering and smuggling to help the Iranian regime skirt U.S.-led sanctions, a report which was confirmed several months later by The New York Times.
Alusi said the sources of the current information about Obama’s intended visit to Tehran are “good sources, not the same [that reported the collusion between elements in Iraq’s government and the Iranian regime] but the same level.”
“There is a plan for President Obama to visit Tehran,” Alusi said. “The new thing will be, ‘Iran will be contained'” or that the [Iranian] regime and Obama will shake hands” after Iran’s leaders promise to halt their efforts to obtain nuclear weapons, Alusi said.
In addition to saying this information came from high levels, Alusi offered his opinion on the matter.
“It looks like visiting Hitler,” said Alusi. “Is it true history is repeating itself? Is it true the superpower doesn’t understand the Mideast? Is it true [Obama] will shake hands with someone who … [says], ‘I will eliminate a country and a people?’ It is a crazy idea, to me.”
Nevertheless, Alusi believes Obama will soon travel to meet with Ahmadinejad and that the U.S. President sees the potential visit as an opportunity to bridge a diplomatic impasse “like Nixon as he visit[ed] China.”
Alusi shared his view that he would support diplomatic efforts in the Mideast, even with extremists, if he believed they could work – but he doesn’t believe they can, and the danger is that the extremists will buy time and gain strength.
“If this is such kind of situation we [who support] democratic peace, civility–we are in danger,” he said. “The Iranians are going to promise they won’t make a bomb. But [to themselves] they will say, ‘America is not serious.’
“The Iranian tactic is clear. I am an Oriental man; I understand this. They [will] say, ‘We will not have it.’ They [will] have the know-how, the stability in policy. They will work quietly. And one day they will surprise us.”
“Mr. Obama, don’t do something stupid.
“I will never trust terrorists and extremists, never.”
Alusi’s two sons, Jamal, 22, and Ayman, 30, were murdered by terrorists in February, 2005, apparently as “payback” for their father’s having visited Israel – a taboo in Iraqi society.
Shortly after the attack, Alusi told reporters, “I have always urged politicians to avoid trying to lead a dialogue with terrorists. Any kind of inviting murderers to dialogue means giving them a little bit of legitimacy, which they do not have. They do not have the right to play with us.”
Refusing to be intimidated after the murders, Alusi stayed in Iraq and continued to build the political party his fallen sons had helped him establish. In December, 2005, he was elected to Iraq’s Parliament, where he went on to serve two terms. He has visited Israel several times since and survived an assassination attempt last February.
In 2008, Iraq’s highest court upheld Alusi’s right to travel to Israel and ruled his fellow Parliamentarians, many of whom said they had voted under duress and threat of violence, had no right to strip him of his immunity or security protection for visiting the Jewish State.
Last week Alusi cautioned that, should Ahmadinejad give an assurance the regime will halt its nuclear program, “It doesn’t mean we are secure, just that they will push the problem down a couple of years.”
At the time of publication, the White House had not yet responded to The Algemeiner’s request for comment on the report.
UPDATE: A White House spokesperson denied the report in an email to The Algemeiner, saying, “There is no meeting scheduled between President Obama and President Ahmadinejad.”
The spokesperson also added details of American intentions in dealing with the Iranian threat:
“Our focus is working with our P5+1 partners to bring Iran back to the negotiating table. The P5+1 has proposed concrete dates and venues ever since early December. After these proposals were not agreed to by Iran, the P5+1’s latest proposal is the week of February 25 in Kazakhstan. It is good to hear that Foreign Minister Salehi finally confirmed this date and location. We hope the negotiating team will also confirm. It is time for Iran to come back to the negotiating table as soon as possible so that we can start dealing with substance again and make concrete progress regarding the international community’s concerns about the nature of the Iranian nuclear program.”