AC: "Iran remains a partner."
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ANDERSON COOPER: That skeptical tone will carry over next week, as the Senate debates a resolution condemning the president's troop buildup. A vote is set for Monday. So, with all the tough talk on Iraq and Iran, where is the proof? What evidence does the Bush administration really have about Iranian involvement in Iraq?
And, for that, we turn to CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, in Tehran; in Baghdad, Michael Ware; and Suzanne Malveaux in Washington.
Suzanne, let's start with you.
COOPER: We will be watching tomorrow. Suzanne, thanks.
If lawmakers needed any more evidence that Iraq will be a tough place to fix -- if possible at all -- they got plenty more today. Two bombings in Hillah, south of Baghdad, killed at least five dozen people. 30 more bodies in Baghdad, gunmen targeting college students elsewhere. And in Iran, reports that the government has refused to let U.N. inspectors set up cameras at an underground nuclear plant.
As we said, Michael Ware is in Baghdad for us tonight. And Christiane Amanpour is in Tehran.
Christiane, the number-two U.S. military commander in Iraq, General Raymond Odierno, said that Iranians are supplying Iraqi militias with a variety of powerful weapons, including Katyusha rockets.
How are Iranian officials, at this point, responding to the accusations?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, directly, not. The government has not responded directly. There have been many days of holiday over the mourning period.
But, unofficially, I have been talking with sources with very close connection to the government. And they say: You have got to show us the proof. They say: We would be really surprised to hear that we are supplying our own allies, Shiites, to kill the very people who liberated them, the Americans.
This is what their -- what their position apparently is. They say that they want a democratic and freely elected government in Iraq, which they say exists right now, and that, yes, their position is that they want the U.S. -- quote -- "occupying forces" out, but only after they have laid the groundwork for the possibility to get out, and not to get out precipitously, which would leave -- quote -- "Iraq in a bigger mess than it is in already."
COOPER: Well, it will be interesting to see if the Bush administration releases what they say is this evidence.
Michael, you spoke to Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki earlier this week. Does he see Iran as much of a threat in Iraq as the United States does?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, no, not at all, Anderson.
I mean, he sees Iran in a much different way. I mean, the problem for the Iraqi prime minister is that he's caught between a rock and a hard place. He has the U.S. administration and the military here essentially underwriting his so-called democratic government.
Nonetheless, Iran remains a partner. I mean, there's a shared land border. There's a lot of, you know, population that shares ties across that porous land border.
And, don't forget, the prime minister comes from a Shia political alliance of parties, most of whom received shelter from Saddam by Iran or continue to have support from Iran to this day. Indeed, the prime minister's party, when it fled Saddam, went to -- partly to Syria, and mostly to Iran.
COOPER: Christiane, an interesting moment in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft once again urging the U.S. to pursue diplomacy with Iran, the suggestion, obviously, the Bush administration has rejected, at least on this issue.
What is your sense from talking to Iranian officials? How open would they be to talks?
AMANPOUR: Well, I think they do want to. And they have made that representation in the past.
Certainly, officially, it's really difficult to get a straight answer on this. But, unofficially, those people who I have been talking to say: "Look, we were" -- and they use the word "partners with the United States over the war in Afghanistan, when the Taliban was kicked out, and we helped the United States, in a very constructive way, usher in the new democratic government of Hamid Karzai."
And even the U.S. admits that. So, these very same people are saying that: "We should be having the same kind of cooperation in Iraq. We know -- who knows Iraq better than us?" they say. "We were at war with Iraq for eight years. We have this long border," as Michael pointed out. So many of the leadership and, by the way, the Badr Brigades, the militias, the people in Iraq now who are in the armed camps, were inside Iran. "We know a lot, and we can help a lot. And we can help the Americans a lot."
So, on this side, many of the officials are wondering why they can't get to talks to -- with America about this issue.
COOPER: And it's interesting, Michael. What can the Iraqi government really do? This spokesman for the Iraqi government said they won't allow any attacks from Iran against American forces or British forces in Iraq. But they also stress they want to maintain good relations with Iran.
And you talked about the prime minister being between a rock and a hard place. How does the government balance the two? Can they move against these Iranian agents?
WARE: Absolutely not. I mean, this government has no power whatsoever to move against the Iranian agents or the massive Iranian networks that work within this country. I mean, remember, the Iranians helped harness a lot of these Iraqi exiles during Saddam's regime. They put thousands of them into the Iranian armed forces, turned hundreds and thousands of them into covert networks, which are still operating today.
I mean, as the Iranian ambassador here in Baghdad once said to me, when I challenged him that Western intelligence says there's covert ops running out of your embassy, he goes: "Well, this is an embassy. And the CIA is here, and MI6 is here."
And what we see, for example, within the Iraqi government, how they balance it, there's competing intelligence agencies that operate within this government. One is backed by the CIA and the U.S. government. The other one has been backed by the Iranians. So, they're just trying -- they have to live with this situation.
COOPER: A difficult situation, indeed.
Michael Ware, thanks. Christiane Amanpour, thanks -- covering the story from both Tehran and Baghdad tonight.
Michael actually returns in our next hour. He and I sat down recently for an in-depth look at the war, what he calls, actually, four wars unfolding at once. That's coming up at the top of the hour -- his thoughts on his near-death experience at the hands of al Qaeda gunmen. We're calling it "Iraq: The Hidden Wars." Again, that's at the top of the hour.
We got hundreds of e-mails about this broadcast, people saying it clarified things for them in Iraq, what's happening on the ground, what's really happening on the ground. I urge you to watch it.