Sun, Sep 07, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Iraq reacts sharply to allegations of US spying on leaders

AP , BAGHDAD

The Iraqi government has reacted sharply to published allegations that the US spied on the Iraqi prime minister, warning that future ties with the US could be in jeopardy if the report were true.

The allegations appeared in a new book, The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008, by journalist Bob Woodward, who wrote that the US spied extensively on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his staff and other government officials.

The report emerged as the two governments are in delicate negotiations over the future of US troops in Iraq. Those talks have already extended past their July 31 deadline and have drawn sharp criticism from Iraqis who want an end to the US presence.

Critics could use the allegation to step up pressure on the government not to sign a deal or hold out for the most favorable terms.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on Friday that Baghdad would raise the allegations with the US and ask for an explanation. If true, he warned, it would show a lack of trust.

“It reflects also that the institutions in the United States are used to spy on their friends and their enemies in the same way,” al-Dabbagh said in a statement.

“If it is true, it casts a shadow on the future relations with such institutions,” al-Dabbagh said, referring to the CIA and other US intelligence agencies.

Meanwhile, former Iraqi deputy prime minister and former Pentagon favorite Ahmad Chalabi escaped a suicide car bomb attack on his convoy in Baghdad, an official in his office said yesterday.

Chalabi was not wounded, but the explosion on Friday night killed six of his bodyguards, said the official, Ayad Kadhim Sabti. Police said more than a dozen other people were wounded in the blast.

In related news, at least six people were killed and about 50 injured yesterday when a suicide bomber attacked a market in Tal Afar, police and medical officials said. The small but strategic northwestern Iraqi city has been a frequent target of suicide bombers over the past five years.

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