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Security of Iraq Discussed in Tehran

Iraq's Interior Minister traveled to Tehran Monday for a two-day meeting with the foreign ministers of neighboring states and Egypt. Security will be at the top of their agenda, as Iraq prepares to hold national elections January 30.

The primary purpose of the meeting is to urge Iraq's neighbors to take a greater role in stopping the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq. This, according to the senior political adviser to the Interior Ministry, Sabah Kadhim.

"One hopes that this will be translated in a way with the neighboring countries, namely really helping the Iraqi government particularly during this critical period before the elections, with stopping the infiltration from various countries," Mr. Kadhim says. "But, we go beyond that. They should look into the organizations that operate in their countries and freeze their funds, and arrest these people because it's of mutual interest."

Mr. Kadhim says it is believed most of the foreign fighters are entering Iraq through Syria. And, although he says Tehran has never officially acknowledged that insurgents are entering Iraq from Iran, he says there is significant information to suggest they are.

It is widely believed throughout Iraq that much of the insurgency in the country is being carried out by foreign militants, including wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was born in Jordan.

His group has allegedly claimed responsibility for murdering Iraqi National Guard forces in the northern city of Mosul over the past two weeks. Dozens of bodies have been discovered in and around Mosul where insurgents recently took control of numerous police stations, before being ousted by U.S. and Iraqi forces.

Those killings have led to speculation that Mr. al-Zarqawi, who was believed to have been hiding in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, fled to northern Iraq to escape the U.S.-led invasion of Fallujah earlier this month.

Securing the borders of Iraq is seen as critical in the battle to end the mounting insurgency, which has grown more intense and has become more widespread since the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Monday, a car bomber killed at least a dozen people and wounded many others in the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad. Most of the victims were reportedly police officers.

Insurgents have primarily targeted Iraq's fledgling security forces, carrying out dozens of car bomb attacks against Iraqi police stations and National Guard posts.

The insurgency led to a recent call by a political coalition of Sunni Muslim Arabs and Sunni Kurds to postpone the elections for up to six months. However, that coalition collapsed after the government of Shiite Muslim interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said the elections would be held as scheduled.