Iran and Iraq
The 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?