Iran sought client state in Iraq, says envoy


Senior American officials held confidential talks with Iran about Iraq’s future in advance of the United States-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, and secured a promise that the Iranian military would not fire at United States warplanes that strayed into Iranian airspace, according to a new book by a ranking Bush administration official, The New York Times reports.

But the rapprochement foundered in part because of U.S. refusal to capitulate to Iranian plans to turn Iraq into a de facto client state, according to Zalmay Khalilzad’s memoir, The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House, My Journey Through a Turbulent World

Khalilzad informed Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations and future foreign minister, hat the Bush administration wanted to establish a democratic government in Baghdad that would be at peace with its neighbors, The Times notes:

Mr. Zarif, however, had his own ideas on how postwar Iraq should be governed. He favored a quick handover to Iraqi exiles, argued that Iraqi security institutions should be rebuilt from the ground up, called for the extensive purging of former members of Hussein’s Baath Party and opposed an American occupation, Mr. Khalilzad wrote.

That approach, which appeared designed to magnify Iran’s influence inside Iraq, differed radically from Mr. Khalilzad’s strategy to form an interim Iraqi government that included Iraqis who had remained in the country during Hussein’s rule, and not just leaders in exile. Nor did Mr. Khalilzad [a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy] favor sweeping purges of Baath Party members.

Read the full article from Michael R. Gordon here:

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