Iraqi Officials Say NYT Trying to Discredit Elections!
Iraqi officials are saying that the New York Times is trying to discredit the national elections this week. The “Old Gray Lady” wrote this morning about a tanker of forged ballots coming from Iran into Iraq. Iraqi officials are now saying that the report is not true, that it came from a single anonymous source and that the New York Times is trying to discredit their elections!
The New York Times reported this morning on the story:
Less than two days before nationwide elections, the Iraqi border police seized a tanker on Tuesday that had just crossed from Iran filled with thousands of forged ballots, an official at the Interior Ministry said.
The tanker was seized in the evening by agents with the American-trained border protection force at the Iraqi town of Badra, after crossing at Munthirya on the Iraqi border, the official said. According to the Iraqi official, the border police found several thousand partly completed ballots inside.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the Iranian truck driver told the police under interrogation that at least three other trucks filled with ballots had crossed from Iran at different spots along the border.
The official, who did not attend the interrogation, said he did not know where the driver was headed, or what he intended to do with the ballots.
The seizure of the truck comes at a delicate time in Iran’s relations with both Iraq and the United States. The American government has said Iranian agents are deeply involved in trying to influence events in Iraq, by funneling money to Shiite political parties and by arming and training many of the illegal militias that are bedeviling the country.
But, Reuters is now reporting that Iraqi officials are denying the story. They say the New York Times is wanting to influence their election:
The head of Iraq’s border guards denied police reports on Wednesday that a tanker truck stuffed with thousands of forged ballot papers had been seized crossing into Iraq from Iran before Thursday’s elections.
“This is all a lie,” said Lieutenant General Ahmed al-Khafaji, the chief of the U.S.-trained force which has responsibility for all Iraq’s borders.
“I heard this yesterday and I checked all the border crossings right away. The borders are all closed anyway,” he told Reuters.
Iraq’s frontiers are closed for the period of the election.
“I contacted all the border crossing points and there was no report of any such incident,” Khafaji said.
Interior Minister Bayan Jabor also denied the reports, which the New York Times ran prominently, quoting a single unnamed Interior Ministry source, and said it was an attempt to discredit the election process.