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Iran's man in Iraq
By Ahmed Janabi


Ahmadinejad said his "landmark" visit to Baghdad was aimed at improving relations between the once warring countries [GALLO/GETTY]

When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian leader, visited Baghdad earlier this week, he became the first president from outside the US-led coalition to visit post-war Iraq.



During his visit, Tehran and Baghdad signed several agreements to promote economic, cultural and strategic ties between the two countries who were locked in bitter warfare during the 1980s.



But some Iraqi officials say the visit serves to emphasise Iran's growing dominance in Iraqi affairs.



Dhafir al-Ani, an Iraqi MP for the Tawafuq (Accordance) Bloc, says Iran has been meddling in Iraqi politics by actively aiding some factions against others with the aim of securing influence in Baghdad.



"Iran must stop its support to some carefully selected Shia Iraqi factions, in order to guarantee they are stronger than those who oppose its influence in Iraq," al-Ani told Al Jazeera.



"Ahmedinejad's visit to Iraq is a strong message to the Iraqi people that Iran is present in Iraq."



War scars



"Iran has always called for US withdrawal from Iraq, and it will continue to do so but without jeopridising Iraq's young political process."

Kamil Wazne,
Beirut-based analyst

Ahmadinejad's visit was also packaged by the Iranian government as a means to overcome the scars of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war in which hundreds of thousands were killed and wounded on both sides.



But overcoming the stigma of the bloody conflict may be a long time coming.



Iraqis say the war created a deeply-rooted rift with Iran who they accuse of still trying to promote its brand of revolutionary Shia Islam throughout Iraq.



In 1980, Iraq said it invaded Iran in a bid to thwart Iranian efforts to export the Islamic revolution to its neighbouring Arab countries.



At the time, Iranian clerics said they were fighting the secular government of Saddam Hussein, who they said was an infidel non-believer.



The memory of the war for Iraqis and Iranians is still profound.



When Ahmadinejad first addressed Iraqis in Baghdad he alluded to the "departure of the tyrant" in reference to Saddam Hussein, who was president during the conflict.




Post-war influence




Ahmadinejad is greeted by his Iraqi counterpart
Jalal Talabani at his Baghdad residence [AFP]
Since 2003 and the fall of the Saddam Hussein government, Iran has been cementing ties with successive Iraqi governments saying it was working for regional stability with its former foe.



But some quarters in the Iraqi parliament and security services say Iran is one of the key instigators of instability and violence in Iraq.



Mohamed al-Shahwani, the head of Iraqi intelligence, issued a statement ahead of Ahmadinejad's visit accusing Iran of undermining the mostly Sunni Sahwa (Awakening) councils, which the US military has credited with helping to eliminate the al-Qaeda threat.



US officials also reiterated their belief earlier this week that Iran had been arming and training militias and death squads who have been blamed for much of the sectarian war in Iraq.



Ahmadinejad brushed off the accusations.

He said: "American officials talk too much. We do not care to hear their statements, because the Americans are giving statements based on false information."



"We are going to give them some friendly advice. We believe that directing accusations at others does not solve American problems. They should solve their problems elsewhere," he told the media in Baghdad.



Stronger than America?



Some Iraqis also believe that the US occupation of Iraq could not have lasted into its fifth year without Iran's involvement.



In the immediate post-invasion political chaos, Iran was the first country to recognise the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), which was established under the US occupation in 2003. US officials heralded the IGC as Iraq's first multi-ethnic and liberal governing body.



Latif al-Seidi, a tribal leader from al-Diwaniya in the predominantly Shia province of Qadisiya in southern Iraq, believes Iranian approval of Iraqi governments backed by Washington was designed to facilitate the US occupation of an Arab Muslim country.



He told Al Jazeera: "His [Ahmedinejad's] visit aims at consolidating the US occupation of Iraq, and to say that Iran is a major power in the region. His meeting with al-Maliki inside the US-protected Green Zone, is just another proof that the Iranian regime is not sincere when it declares America its enemy."



"I believe, as many do, [that] the US and Iran media war is just a cover for this cooperation."



Double standards?



Some Iraqis also question how Iranian-funded political parties and politicians have thrived in senior government posts under the protection of US political and military might.



Fadil al-Rubei, an Iraqi historian and political analyst, believes Ahmedinajad's visit to Iraq sends "a message to the countries of the region to say that Iran is in Iraq and they should take that into consideration when dealing with both countries."



Al-Rubei says Ahmadinejad is not looking for a confrontation with the US or any other power in the region.



"As a historian, I believe this is the reason why revolutionary Ahmedinejad, does not have a problem in visiting Iraq which is occupied by 150,000 US soldiers, and does not have a problem in entering the heavily guarded Green Zone, which is seen as the symbol of US occupation," al-Rubei told Al Jazeera.




Despite Al Jazeera's repeated requests for interviews, Iranian officials were unavailable for comment.



But Kamil Wazne, the director of the American Studies Center in Beirut, rejects accusations that Iran is facilitating US occupation or fuelling instability in Iraq.



He believes Iran is supporting Iraqis "until they are on their feet".



He said: "We cannot say Iran has double standards because it supports the US-backed Iraqi government. Rather, Iran's strategy is to give Iraqis enough time to be able to rule themselves properly after decades of suppressive rule under Saddam [Hussein].



"Iran has always called for US withdrawal from Iraq, and it will continue to do so, but without jeopridising Iraq's young political process."



Economic ties




The Iranian delegation signed economic deals
with Baghdad during Ahmedinejad's visit

Part of Iran's strategy of helping Iraqis help themselves comes in the form of economic initiatives and alliances.



Ahmedinejad's visit to Iraq appeared to avoid discussing the security situation and focused more on the economic ties.



The trip concluded on Monday with the signing of several economic deals with Iraq.



Though Iranian goods started to appear in Iraqi markets before the US-led invasion in 2003, but it flooded Iraqi market after 2003.


Muwafaq al-Rubei, Iraq's national security advisor, says strengthening economic ties with Iran would ease regional tension.



Welcomed or not?



"I am from the south, where the Shia is majority, I assure you the discontent there is just as any other Iraqi region."

Latif al-Seid, Iraqi tribal leader


In Iraq's south, where Iran's influence is perhaps the most pronounced, there are mixed feelings regarding Ahmadinejad's visit.



Some Iraqi Shia and Sunni tribes have welcomed the Iranian president's visit, seeing it as a natural development in the ties between the two neighbours.



But in a move that is reflective of the deep divisions between southern Iraqi tribes, others have condemned Ahmedinejad's visit to Iraq and demanded Iran to stop aiding "death squads" and interfering in Iraq's domestic issues.



Demonstrators in several Iraqi cities took to the streets to express their frustration at Ahmedinejad's visit, however, no demonstrations were seen in Shia areas.



Al-Seidi said: "I am from the south, where the Shia is majority, I assure you the discontent there is just as any other Iraqi region. The reason why we did not see people take to the street is because of the iron grip of Iranian intelligence and Iranian-paid militias."



An Iraqi police officer serving in Basra, who chose not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media, denied that protests had been planned in southern Iraq.

He said: "I have not learnt about protests in the south, however, I can tell that sympathy for Iran among Iraqis is not as strong as it was immediately after the US invasion in 2003."


Source: AlJazeera + Agencies
 

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Outstanding Contributor Always Remembered RI
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Irans man in Iraq is actually George W Bush, after all he instigated all that is happening now between the two countries.
 

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"But some Iraqi officials say the visit serves to emphasise Iran's growing dominance in Iraqi affairs."

And this is surprising to who?
 

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Irans man in Iraq is actually George W Bush, after all he instigated all that is happening now between the two countries.

A student of history eh? Go back to school. Saddam and Iraq have been at war for longer than either bush was in office. Hey... and stop sending that crap stuff you make over here will ya? :p
 

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A student of history eh? Go back to school. Saddam and Iraq have been at war for longer than either bush was in office. Hey... and stop sending that crap stuff you make over here will ya? :p
Would you care to elaborate?
 

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A student of history eh? Go back to school. Saddam and Iraq have been at war for longer than either bush was in office. Hey... and stop sending that crap stuff you make over here will ya? :p
Yeah, elaborate and enlighten us since you're the all knowing n' stuff. If you're going to judge what Teutone writes as crap I think it's only fair that you show us that you don't crap like the rest of us.
 

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"But some Iraqi officials say the visit serves to emphasise Iran's growing dominance in Iraqi affairs."

And this is surprising to who?
Surprises absolutely no one...
The on going battle of religion is rediculous. They are some of the most violent people this World has to offer. Leave eachother alone. Thats the easiest way to solve stuff.
 

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Surprises absolutely no one...
The on going battle of religion is rediculous. They are some of the most violent people this World has to offer. Leave eachother alone. Thats the easiest way to solve stuff.
why not kill'em all eh?
 

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Surprises absolutely no one...
The on going battle of religion is rediculous. They are some of the most violent people this World has to offer. Leave eachother alone. Thats the easiest way to solve stuff.

Violent pull your head out, it is nothing to do with religion and ALL about Iran one day dominating/controlling the powers that be in Iraq thus controlling the oil supply in Iraq, turning on or off the spigot from those wells and dominating the world with high oil prices and in the future a world class conflict is going to come of this............
 

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Outstanding Contributor Always Remembered RI
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A student of history eh? Go back to school. Saddam and Iraq have been at war for longer than either bush was in office. Hey... and stop sending that crap stuff you make over here will ya? :p
You have missed my point. They were at war for 8 years, but now Iran has the upper hand as Sadam is dead, now do you get it.

Oh and I dont make the crap, the chinese do:D
 

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Outstanding Contributor Always Remembered RI
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Quote, Drewproof, why not kill em all.

I thought that is exactly what Sadam was trying to do:D and we hung him:confused: back to the drawing board:eek:
 

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Someone please say the truth.

When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian leader, visited Baghdad earlier this week, he became the first president from outside the US-led coalition to visit post-war Iraq.



During his visit, Tehran and Baghdad signed several agreements to promote economic, cultural and strategic ties between the two countries who were locked in bitter warfare during the 1980s.

~~~~~~~~~~~
soooooooo...

...Our troops have fought and died over in the sandbox for THIS????!!!:confused:
 

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Somehow....

.....I believe we will somehow manage to survive with Jayhawk's penetrating insights and analyses on this thread.....:rolleyes:
 

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Quote, Drewproof, why not kill em all.

I thought that is exactly what Sadam was trying to do:D and we hung him:confused: back to the drawing board:eek:
My position has always been to hire Saddam instead of killing him, with the biggest bastards of his former secret police we could find.
Instead, GW in his infinite wisdom spends US $ 12 billion a month, and Iran benefits.
You are looking at a very real axis of Iran influence, from Iran through Shia controlled Iraq, through Syria, Gaza and Iranian supported Hamas, plus Lebanon with Irans puppet Hezbollah.
In the future, 4 bucks for a gallon of gas may look like a bargain.
 

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Outstanding Contributor Always Remembered RI
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We should have given Sadam 50 billion and sent him all the arms he needed and told him to kick some butt in Iran, Lets face it the Kurds knew what they were doing when they tried to assasinate Sadam and the Turks werent exactly angry about the genocide bit as it seems Sadam was doing the Turks a favour by subduing the Kurds.

Instead we now have an even stronger Iran and a much weaker Iraq. We may end up looking a 8 dollars a gallon:mad:

And least we forget, a lot of dead troops:mad::mad:

Dont forget who is footing the bill for all this madness:surrender:
 

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.....I believe we will somehow manage to survive with Jayhawk's penetrating insights and analyses on this thread.....:rolleyes:

Hey Hey Hey.........Jay's insightful knowledge and timing in advising us all on our financial moves in this volatile US economy and wild stock market swings has made us all millionaires so I for one will welcome his inner most thoughts on the subject at hand................
 

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Oil prices have doubled last few years, and so has Iran's GDP.

Oil is nationalized in Iran meaning all the revenues go to the government, right into the pockets of very few with their own agenda, and their own lobbyists. Kinda like the west.

What do you think they are trying to do with all this extra cash?

Where do they get their money from? (i.e. Who buys their oil)? Who do they buy their weapons from? Who manufactures them? Who is benefiting? Gotta follow the money my friends..

This is why we must lead the world in solar and wind..
 

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Solar companies are mostly owned by oil companies, good luck getting them for any dramatic headways in terms of alternnative energies while the gravy train is still in the station.
 
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