Your Most Trusted Source of Foreign News About the United States

Iraqi Prime Minister Jaafari visits the shrine of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran, Father of the Iranian Revolution.

U.S. Troop Pullout Pushes Iraq into Iran's Open Arms

Beijing argues that the announcement by the U.S. and Britain that they would soon begin pulling out their troops prompted has Iraq to look elsewhere for assistance - especially to Iran. Hence, the recent trip of Iran's Prime Minister and a high-level Iraqi entourage to the Iranian capital.

July 19, 2005

Original Article (English)    

The trip to Iran paid by the Prime Minister of the Iraqi transitional government, Ibrahim Jaafari, is receiving great attention: Iran's current President Mohammed Khatami and President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad both held meetings with him, and it is reported that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will also meet with him. Jaafari's Iran visit is so eye-catching mainly because of the following:

Firstly, the lineup of the visiting delegation is on an unprecedented scale. The Iraqi Prime Minister’s entourage includes seven cabinet ministers, in charge of foreign affairs; national defense; petroleum; communications; and electric power, a much more distinguished group than for his visit to the United States.

During the visit, leaders of the two countries held talks on economic issues such as energy, electricity and water supplies, and promoting cooperation.

—NPR NEWS AUDIO: Iraq's Prime Minister Makes Historic Trip to Iran, July 18, 00:05:10

People have noticed that when the visit was announced, 15,000 Iraqi Southern Oil Company staff members went on strike, and as a result, oil exports were suspended for 24 hours. Oil exports from northern Iraq are also frequently disabled due to incessantly damaged equipment. The drop-off in crude oil production and revenue has affected not only reconstruction, but also domestic fuel supplies and electricity.  To alleviate dissatisfaction, the transitional government is eager to ease shortages in oil, electricity and water. Iran, for its part, is willing to offer its timely assistance to Iraq to improve relations between the two countries.

Secondly, in recent months Iraq's security situation has again become grim. In the months of May and June, more than 860 Iraqis lost their lives in various types of attacks. In the attack on a gas station on June 16 alone, over 90 people died and nearly 100 were injured.

Iran's Defense Minister Meets Iraqi Counterpart

At the same time, while Iraq's security situation was deteriorating, the United States and Britain declared that they would begin reducing their troops next year. Iraq was compelled to turn to neighboring countries for support, especially for effective cooperation on boundary control. According to an Iraqi official in charge of border control, Baghdad will repatriate as many as 10,000 foreigners who entered the country illegally, which requires the understanding and coordination of neighboring countries. However, what people are more interested in are the diplomatic trends that the new Iraqi government's visit reveals.

Earlier, U.S. media pointed out that the United States had spent in excess of US$200 billion and lost the lives of over 1,700 soldiers, which may end up being like a bridal dowry for Iran, that is to say, Iraq is likely to evolve into a pro-Iran Islamic government.

These worries on the part of the American media, it should be said, are not groundless: First, the winner of the Iraqi general election was a Shiite, the same sect that predominates in Iran, so the two sides have the same “belief” and so are likely to respond similarly; Second, the top leaders of the new Iraqi government, such as Prime Minister Jaafari and many of his cabinet members, took refuge in Iran during Saddam Hussein’s rule and received great help from Iran, so they naturally hope to repay Iran's kindness.

Because of this, the United States cannot but be wary of the Iraqi Government trends now developing. The newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Iraq indicated that it was not American policy to encourage an antagonistic state between Iran and Iraq, "but we don't want to see Iraqi affairs being subjected to external interference. A good relationship also implies that the neighbor shouldn't attempt to control Iraq's institutions."

Whether viewed from the perspective of religious belief, economic reconstruction or state security, Iraq's improving relationship with Iran is undoubtedly logical and should not have been unexpected. But this doesn't mean that the new Iraqi government will embark on an anti-U.S. road. Don't forget that although Iraq and Iran share the same [religious] beliefs, one nation is Arab and the other Persian, and the foreign policy of any government must be based on the attributes of the nation and interests of the State.

In addition, it is very clear that the new Iraqi government, led by Shiites and Kurds, must attribute their successful achievement of political power to American support.

Up to now, not only political and economic reconstruction has depended on U.S. money and strength; but the new Iraqi army and police can shoulder little heavy responsibility on its own, so the country can’t maintain its security without United States "backing.”

It is therefore clear that the new Iraqi government must walk a tight-rope and strike a balance between Iran and the United States. However, it will need great political wisdom and diplomatic skill to achieve success one way or another -- this will be the ultimate test for the new Iraqi government.

This article on the third page of People's Daily, July 19, 2005, is translated by By People's Daily Online.


— Al-Arabiya TV (Dubai): Iranian President Mohammad Khatami Denies That Iran Wants to Impse Its System on Iraq, July 14, 00:02:23, MEMRI

“We called upon the Iraqis to determine their (regime) by themselves, according to their own circumstances.”

Iran's President Mohammad Khatami

© Watching America all rights reserved. Disclaimer

© Watching America all rights reserved.