'Stay Out of Iraqi Politics!' White House Warns Arab Neighbors

“Stay out of Iraqi politics!” is what The Bush Administration is warning at least three neighboring countries that are reportedly funding Islamist parties in the upcoming elections to determine the shape of post-Saddam Iraq.

During a lecture at the Heritage Foundation in Washington on June 23rd, Samir Shakir Mahmood Sumaida’ie–minister of the Interior under the former Iraqi Governing Council–surprised listeners when he mentioned that “Iran has injected money to the Islamist parties” and that both Syria and Saudi Arabia had also provided “some funding” for the Islamist parties. (In appealing for support to provide “a level playing field,” Sumaida’ie, a founder of the new Democratic Alliance, did not specify which parties are benefitting from the foreign assistance or whether any are aligned with the Ayatollah Al-Sistani).

The White House, however, did not require confirmation of Sumaida’ie’s charges. Although he did not confirm whether the Administration was aware of any funding of Islamist parties in Iraq from its neighbors, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan subsequently told me “We don’t want to see them getting involved in ways that would not be helpful to the developing process in Iraq.” He added that Administration officials had “expressed this” to the neighboring countries in question.