Iran is supplying weaponry to groups that target the US in Iraq, and should be engaged about its conduct, but dropping bombs on the country would be a dangerous error. That's the basic message Iraq's National Security Advisor Muwaffaq al-Rubaie has been spreading around Washington, DC in multiple engagements this week.
Rubaie became markedly more intense during an appearance at CSIS on Friday when telling the audience that attacking Iran militarily would be a "fatal mistake," adding emphatically, "It should never be an option."
He also echoed his headline-generating comment from an appearance Wednesday at the Nixon Center, where he insisted that there should be “absolutely no—big fat no, N-O—bombing of Iran."
In Rubaie's view, the Iranian response would be to ramp up activities inside his country, putting Iraq in the crossfire between two arch enemies.
"They will react against us," al-Rubaie explained. "They will not come to New York. They will not come to Washington. They will come to us, I can tell you that, and we will be in big, big trouble. We are not ready for that."
Despite Rubaie's strong emphasis on the need for dialogue, his discussion of Iranian weapons being funneled into Iraq captured the attention of Robin Wright and Ann Scott Tyson during an appearance at the Washington Post, becoming a story that will likely be widely cited as evidence supporting military action against Iran.
Rubaie told the Post Iran's war supplies to militants include upgrades from RPG-7s, a shoulder-fired, rocket-propelled grenade first used by the Soviet Union in the 1960s, to the much more deadly RPG-29, a larger, new generation anti-tank weapon with warheads capable of penetrating American tank armor.
Iran also has provided militants with 240mm missiles that can hit targets 25 to 30 miles away, the longest-range missile now used against U.S. troops in Iraq, and more advanced surface-to-air missiles, Rubaie said.
More than halfway through the article, it's revealed that Rubaie believes Iran accelerated the supply of weapons after diplomatic contacts with the United States hit another impasse in early August. "We believe that when they stopped engagement in the beginning of August, that's when upgraded the arms," he said.
Further, Rubaie told the Post that the increasing pressure the US puts on Iran will continue being played out inside Iraq, worsening the already unstable situation.
Understanding that kind of perspective makes it no surprise that "engagement" became Rubaie's mantra at all his DC appearances this week. And not just any engagement, but "positive, constructive, serious engagement," he told CSIS Friday.