Iran promises Iraq full support against ‘terror’
TEHRAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised Iraq’s beleaguered Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki his government’s full support against “terrorism” on Friday as militants advanced toward Baghdad.
Iran is a key ally of Maliki, whose government has been left in disarray by the collapse of its security forces since Monday across a swathe of northern and north-central Iraq, including second city Mosul.
Rouhani told Maliki in a telephone call that Tehran would do its utmost to “combat the massacre and crimes of the terrorists,” his office said.
Iran “will not allow the supporters of terrorists to destabilize Iraq,” he said.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif telephoned UN chief Ban Ki-moon to express Iran’s deep concern over the offensive, spearheaded by extremists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, Iranian media reported.
ISIL’s offensive was a “danger that goes beyond borders,” Zarif said.
Neither Rouhani nor his foreign minister gave any details of the support that Iran was offering.
But a former army intelligence officer said Tehran could offer military advice similar to that it has given Syrian President Bashar Assad in his own battle against rebels.
“We already defeated them and their tactics. It can be done once again,” the retired officer said.
Iran has had military advisers in Syria since 1980 when Damascus took Tehran’s side when now executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein sent in his troops, sparking a devastating eight-year war.
Iraq’s communications ministry has ordered Internet and mobile companies to block social media websites and applications as militants drive toward Baghdad, technicians from two major service providers said Friday.
The technicians said video-sharing site YouTube, social network site Facebook, micro-blogging site Twitter and communications applications WhatsApp and Viber were all affected.
Militants and their supporters have been active on sites including Twitter during the offensive.
Meanshile,German foreign minister warned Friday that the swift advance of militants demonstrates they have become a powerful force that will make it hard to prevent a division of the country.
The broad offensive shows the group “has reached a potential that goes far beyond terrorist attacks,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters in Berlin.
“That’s a power factor we will have to deal with, not just in Iraq but in the entire region in future,” he added. “And this won’t make it any easier to find a solution to the political problem and avoiding a splitting up of Iraq.”
Steinmeier spoke after meeting with his Moroccan counterpart, Salaheddine Mezouar, who said there is a real danger the conflict in Iraq might spread beyond its borders.
“We need to support neighboring countries, Jordan and Lebanon” Mezouar said. “We need to do everything to prevent this process from spreading.”