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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
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
VIDEO FROM THE MUSLIM WORLD
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
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