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September 20, 2018 7:06 pm

American UN Envoy: Iran Violating Iraqi Sovereignty to Create Corridor ‘From Tehran to the Mediterranean’

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US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. Photo: US Mission to UN.

Washington’s envoy to the United Nations accused Iran on Thursday of flagrantly violating Iraqi sovereignty in order to carve a corridor from Tehran to the Mediterranean coast.

Speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council that also addressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said, “if there is one country that is the source of conflict and instability in the Middle East — one country that merits a quarterly debate in the Security Council — that country is not Israel. It’s Iran.”

“It is difficult to name a conflict in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints on it,” she added, accusing Tehran of trampling on the sovereignty of Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and — in particular — Iraq.

“In the case of Iraq, their goal is to exploit uncertainty in order to create an Iranian controlled corridor for weapons and fighters from Tehran to the Mediterranean,” Haley argued.

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She noted that the Islamic Republic — which supplies its proxies in Iraq with funds, training, and weapons — has in the last few months reportedly begun equipping them with ballistic missiles, and is “reportedly developing the capability for its proxy militias to produce their own missiles inside of Iraq.”

The ambassador condemned a recent missile attack launched by Iranian forces against the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, which killed 11 people and constituted “Iran’s first direct military strike into Iraqi territory in over a decade.”

“This Iranian interference in the sovereignty of Iraq should be of great interest to the Security Council for many reasons, not least of which is because it occurs in clear defiance of Security Council resolutions,” Haley observed.

She likewise pointed to rocket attacks carried out by Iranian proxy groups two weeks ago against the US embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Basrah.

“Using proxy forces in Iraq does not give the Iranian regime plausible deniability when attacks like this occur,” Haley warned. “Iran could have stopped its proxies’ attacks. It chose not to, so the White House responded by putting Tehran firmly on notice.”

She said Washington will hold Iran “fully accountable” for any attacks by its proxies on US facilities and personnel in Iraq.

Haley also drew attention to Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, who has “practically taken up residence in Iraq since the May elections,” despite being banned from international travel by the Security Council since 2007.

“And let’s be clear about what Soleimani is up to in Iraq,” she said. “He is not there to help create a government in Baghdad that is responsive to the Iraqi people. He is there to build an Iraqi government that is under the control of the Iranian regime.”

“At a critical time in its history — as Iraqis build their government — Iran is acting in shameless disregard of Iraqi sovereignty,” the ambassador emphasized. “It is undermining a key feature of sovereignty — a state monopoly on the use of force — by promoting its own militias.”

Haley expressed Washington’s commitment to working with Iraq “to help it create an inclusive and independent government,” and urged all those “who respect the right to self-determination for the Iraqi people [to] come to their defense.”

Her comments come shortly before President Donald Trump is expected to preside over a Security Council meeting on Wednesday, amid the UN General Assembly’s annual high-level segment.

In a press briefing held earlier on Thursday, Haley noted that the scope of next week’s session — which she announced earlier this month would address Iranian violations of international law — had been widened.

“We initially started off with being [focused on] Iran,” she acknowledged, “and I think if you just look at September and the fact that we had to deal with the issues of chemical weapons possibly in [the Syrian province of] Idlib, the idea that we had to talk about what happened with the Skripal incident, with the attempted murders in the UK, the fact that we are having to reinforce sanctions for North Korea, it led to a broader conversation.”

Haley added that the president — who will hold separate sideline talks with several foreign leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — will focus on his administration’s recent “foreign policy successes” during his address to the General Assembly on Tuesday.

“He will talk about foreign aid, how generous the United States is,” she continued, “but he will also lay down a marker that while the United States is generous, we agree going to be generous to those who share our values, generous to those who want to work with us, and not those that try to stop the United States and say they hate America and are counterproductive to what we’re doing.”

Trump expressed his frustration with some recipients of US foreign aid in January, tweeting, “It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others. As an example, we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect.”

Washington has in recent months dramatically reduced financial support to the Palestinians, with Congress passing legislation in March that limits US aid to the Palestinian Authority until Ramallah stops paying salaries to convicted Palestinian terrorists and their families. The act was named after Taylor Force, a US Army veteran and graduate student killed in a Palestinian terrorist attack while visiting Israel in 2016.

The administration also slashed hundreds of millions in funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which supports Palestinian refugees of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and their five million descendants. The State Department has said that future support to UNRWA would be conditional on it undergoing reforms.

While a State Department official revealed earlier this month that millions of dollars in frozen aid money for Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation had been released to the PA, the administration announced the following week that it was cutting a further $25 million in funding — this time from a network of East Jerusalem hospitals.

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