This wealthy Iraqi sheikh has been lobbying for Iranian regime change. And he's spending a ton of money at a Trump hotel.
Nahro al-Kasnazan is a wealthy Iraqi sheikh who has been lobbying the Trump Administration for regime change in Iran, and according to a new report by Washington Post on Thursday, he spent 26 nights in the high-end Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. when visiting the United States in 2018.
In an interview with the Post, al-Kasnazan said that his visit to the U.S. capital was not strictly political: he needed medical treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which is about 45 miles away. But he clearly would like to see the U.S. attack Iran militarily. And the Post report (written by Joshua Partlow, David A. Fahrenthold and Taylor Luck) describes his political activities and anti-Iran lobbying efforts with the Trump Administration.
Al-Kasnazan told the Post while he opposes a full-fledged U.S. invasion of Iran, he favors “surgical U.S. military strikes.” And he has been encouraging President Donald Trump as well as National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to pursue regime change.
The 50-year-old sheikh, according to the Post, was “imprisoned” under the dictatorship of the late Saddam Hussein and supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Yet al-Kasnazan has had legal problems in post-Hussein Iraq as well and is presently living in exile in Jordan.
Judge Abdulsatter al-Beriqdar, a spokesman for Iraq’s judiciary, told the Post that al-Kasnazan and his brother, Milas Mohammed Abdul Karim, will “be arrested” if either of them returns to Iraq. Karim, former trade minister for Iraq, has been convicted in absentia on corruption charges. And Iraqi authorities have alleged corruption on al-Kasnazan’s part as well.
In Amman, Jordan, al-Kasnazan has enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle. According to the Post, al-Kasnazan presently lives “in a palatial home amid marble, crystal and oil paintings. His furniture is leafed in gold; angel figures perch on the rims of giant vases.” And he can afford one of Trump’s poshest hotels: a suite at the Trump International Hotel, the Post notes, can cost “$1000 to $2000 per night.”
The Post notes that al-Kasnazan “considers himself a viable candidate to become president of Iraq” someday. But as things presently stand, he would likely end up in jail were he to return.
According to the Post’s report, al-Kasnazan believes that Iranian influence in Iraq has become too strong — and a military attack by the U.S. on Iran would do a lot to undermine that influence.
Tension between the governments of Iran and Iraq has existed for decades. In the early 1980s — when those countries were at war — President Ronald Reagan considered Saddam Hussein an ally and believed the United States and Hussein had a mutual enemy in the Islamic fundamentalist government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomehni (which came to power in Iran in a 1979 revolution). But by the time of the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s, Hussein/U.S. relations had taken a turn for the worse.