Occupation of Basra, 560 Km south of Baghdad, has been set since Khomeini’s reign in Iran.
During several interviews with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, many Iraqis said that Persian language is now spread in Basra. They added that it has become somehow normal with many streets named after Iranian mullahs.
This, according to Iraqis, has driven many residents to leave Basra while many Shi’ites from nearby villages are arriving.
Rokabi added that the scheme to occupy Basra has been set since Khomeini’s reign, but the regime has been conducting new methods since 2003. He added, “They are occupying the city in less conventional ways. They receive help of several Shiite parties and militias affiliated with Iran.”
Rokabi went on to say that Basra is fully occupied now by Iran and its natives has immigrated while cities of Dhi Qar and Maysan expanded. He explained that native tribes such as Basha Al Ayan, Naqib, al-Rashid and many others especially Sunnis are no longer in Basra.
“Basra has become a Shiite city after its citizens have been forced to immigrate,” he said.
Rokabi was a former naval captain at the Iraqi Ministry of Transportation. He reminisced how he used to sail freely and safely outside of Basra with the Iraqi flag on his ship. He described Shatt al-Arab as Iranian now where Iranian authorities arrest Iraqi fishermen for crossing international waters.
Rokabi pointed out that all of this happens with the knowledge of the local government in Basra and Iraqi government without any protest.
He confirmed that Iran occupied the Iraqi island Oum al-Rasas island in Shatt al-Arab in 2003. According to Rokabi, the island is used to smuggle drugs into Iraq and other Gulf countries and smuggling Iranians into Iraqi Bank.
Researcher Khalil al-Faddagh, a citizen from Basra, confirmed that the city never knew illegal Iranian presence before. He added that prior to the Iranian-Iraqi war, Iranians used to visit Basra legally through al-Shamlajah crossing point.
Faddagh added that Iranian presence now is dangerous and troublesome given that they enter the city as they please. He added that Persian language is now normally used with all the charitable institutions and schools.
Faddagh told Asharq al-Awsat that he used to work at the University of Basra prior to his travel to a Gulf country for work.
He conducted secret polls in regard of the Iranian presence and discovered there are over 135 institutions, schools and centers under different names that are under the patronage of Shiite militias and parties including the so-called Iraqi Hezbollah, League of the Righteous, Higher Islamic Council and many others.
According to Faddagh, the number of Iranian media outlets in Basra exceeds the number of Iraqi. He also mentioned that Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) had named a street in Basra after Khomeini. Something Provincial Council Member Ahmed al-Saliti considered as a pride for the governorate.
He explained that Sunni Basra natives and now no more than 13% of the population after it was 76% in the 60’s. He also added that members of Basra Provincial Council are all Shiites including Iranians who were granted the Iraqi nationality in 2003.
Civil activist Iman N. told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that situations in Basra are deteriorating after it was a civil city. She added that there is no security in the city and no municipal cervices.
Iman teaches at one of Basra’s high schools and said that one of the so-called Iraqi Hezbollah demanded that Persian language be taught in schools as a second language.
The activist confirmed that Imam Khomeini institution controls the women through financial support, while they, as activists, can’t help as much due to lack of resources.
She mentioned that prostitution rate had increased in Abdan city with Iraqis constantly visiting that city for purposes other than religious or touristic.