Iran and Iraq

Talani and AhmadinejadThe picture at right, of Iraqi President Talabani Prime Minister Maliki and Iranian President Ahmadinejad, was taken on President Ahmadinejad’s recent visit to Iraq, the first ever by an Irenian leader:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hailed a new era in relations with neighbouring Iraq as he began the first visit by an Iranian leader to Baghdad yesterday.

His presence, intensely controversial among many Iraqis, marks a watershed in relations between the two countries, which fought an eight-year war in the 1980s that left as many as one million dead.

“This is a new page in the history of the relations between the two countries,” Mr Ahmadinejad – who fought in the Iran-Iraq war himself – told a joint news conference with Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president.

“We have the same understanding of things and the two parties are determined to strengthen their political, economic and cultural co-operation,” said the Iranian president.

He expressed his delight at being able to visit Iraq now that Saddam Hussein, Iran’s arch-foe, had been deposed.

“A visit to Iraq without the dictator is a truly happy one,” he said.

The picture and the visit have caused quite a bit of comment in various sectors of the American political blogosphere and the commentariat, generally, with some bloggers who favor an immediate withdrawal of our forces from Iraq pointing to the state visit and chortling and some who believe our troops should stay expressing dismay.

I know that Iran may be developing nuclear weapons (I think that’s the most likely explanation for their behavior myself).

I know that Iran has been accused of, at the least, supplying those who are setting shaped charge IED’s that are killing American soldiers.

But I honestly don’t see grounds for either cries of vindication or chagrin.

The nominal leader of the largest Shi’ite majority country in the world is paying an historic state visit to the second largest Shi’ite majority country in a part of the world in which tribal, ethnic, and sectarian bonds are as important as or more important than national or ideological allegiances. The countries share a long border and closer ties would benefit the people of both countries and trade in both countries. The countries share any number of interests including large Kurdish minorities.

I think an official state visit is better than lobbing bombs or poison gas at each other as they did in the 1980’s. And then there’s the quip “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” (attributed variously to Sun Tzu and Macchiavelli but which seems to have been original to Mario Puzo).

Perhaps someone can explain it to me. Why is this a bad thing?

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Iraq War, , , , , , , ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. WR says:

    How about the fact that the president of Iran, whom our government calls an agent of evil and a dictator, is welcomed for a full state visit in the country we “liberated” while our own president has to sneak in unannounced for surprise visits because his security can’t be guaranteed even by our 150,000 troops?

    Yup, we’ve really made an ally out of Iraq. Mission accomplished!

  2. Callimachus says:

    With due acknowledgement of my ignorance, it’s possible WR (whoever he may be, and I’m sure he doesn’t know me, either) and I agreed on nothing about Iraq between 2002 and today. Especially if he was fundamentally against the war all along. Yet, today, our paths cross and what he wrote is exactly what I felt.

  3. SavageView says:

    Who said $3 trillion couldn’t buy peace in the Middle East?

  4. Scott_T says:

    Probably because Iran (or the Mullah) have been funding Shiite Death-Squads which kill Iraqi civilians.

    Even if they are Sunni, not really a voter for Iraqi President Talabani who’s Shiite IIRC, still one of Talabani’s constituents.

    Imagine Mexico’s president Fox meeting with Bush, while drug-gangs Fox funds are killing New Yorkers, or Berkerly-rites.

  5. DesertJeff says:

    Slight correction: Unless he’s lost a lot of weight and gotten a dye job, that ain’t Talabani.

    OK, I found the photo. That’s Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

  6. creditos says:

    Iraq: A Hopeless Cause

    It has been far to long and I am sick and tired of our country fighting a war we don’t need. With all the problems in our country, why are we concerning ourselves more with others. It has been 4 1/2 years too long and we need to take action NOW!!!! The Bush Administration needs to take a closer look at their Bible, “remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) While America has been paying attention to every other country, the U.S. has been experiencing economic problems, unemployment, a stalled housing market, and a growing deficit. Every day we fight this war all of those problems listed worsen, and as they worsen our country fails it’s citizens more and more. If we don’t end this war now it will never end. The world is moving to fast for us to waste time on meaningless conflicts.

    Carlos Menendez

  7. James Gimian says:

    A minor point, but I want to thank you for pointing out that the quote about keeping your friends close but your enemies closer is not in fact from Sun Tzu but appears in Godfather II. Surely it’s an old adage, but it definitely appears nowhere in writings attributed to Sun Tzu.