Iranian Diplomat Kidnapped in Baghdad

An Iranian diplomat has been kidnapped in Baghdad.

Gunmen wearing Iraqi army uniforms seized an Iranian diplomat as he drove through central Baghdad, officials said Tuesday. Tehran blamed the United States for the abduction, which threatened to raise already sharp tensions between the two rivals.

One Iraqi government official also said the Iranian diplomat was detained Sunday by a special Iraqi army unit that reports directly to the U.S. military. But a military spokesman denied any U.S. troops or Iraqis that report to them were involved. “We’ve checked with our units and it was not an MNF-I (Multi-National Forces — Iraq) unit that participated in that event,” military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said.

[…]

The Iranian government condemned the seizure of Jalal Sharafi, the second secretary at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad, saying he was seized Sunday by gunmen who “operate under the supervision of the American forces in Iraq,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. “The Islamic Republic of
Iran strongly condemns this aggressive act which is in violation of international law,” IRNA quoted Hosseini as saying. “Iran holds American forces in Iraq responsible for the safety and life of the Iranian diplomat.”

The incident comes as tensions have been rising between Iran and the United States and the Shiite-led Iraqi government has shown increasing impatience with both sides for letting their disagreements spill over the border, with the U.S. detentions of at least eight Iranians in recent months. The White House also has authorized U.S. troops in Iraq to kill or capture Iranian agents deemed to be a threat, saying evidence was mounting that Iran is supporting terrorists inside Iraq and is a major supplier of bombs and other weapons used to target U.S. forces. Tehran has denied the charges.

Iran’s sudden concern for the finer points of international law is touching.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.