News, March 2008
Confluence of US and Iranian Policies on Iraq: Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, US Joint Chief of Staff, General Michael Mullen, Arrive in Baghdad
A comment on the News
By Hassan El-Najjar
March 2, 2008
The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the US Joint Chief of Staff, General Michael Mullen, arrive in Baghdad today (Read below).
Is it a coincidence or an apparent sign of agreement and confluence of the US and Iranian policies toward Iraq?
We don't know for sure yet.
What we know for sure is that the ruling elites of the two powers had a common interest in throwing out the Arab nationalist regime in Iraq and weakening the Iraqi state.
They have achieved their goal by the 2003 US-led NATO invasion of Iraq and the subsequent dismantling of the Iraqi state.
It is true that there were few problems between the two allies (at least against Arab nationalist Iraq) after the invasion but these problems were controlled, such as reining in the Iranian-backed sectarian organizations of Mahdi Armay and Badr, which have been accused of forming death squads responsible for killing of Sunni Muslims in an attempt to drag Iraqis to civil war.
The two visits to Baghdad of these high-level US and Iranian officials could be for reaching final agreements about the future of Iraq, as viewed by the two governments.
But could these two visits be a mere innocent coincidence?
Or maybe as the semi-official Iraqi news agency, VOI, mentioned below, "the absence of clear coordination on the timing"?
Or maybe nothing more than a wish Ahmadinejad has, to visit "an Iraq not ruled by a dictator"?
Whatever the truth may turn to be, many Iraqis do not welcome the Ahmadinejad's visit while Iraq is still not sovereign or free.
The Holy War and Change Front said in a statement, published by Yaqen.net, that Ahmadinejad's visit confirms the role of Iran in the partition of Iraq.
Hundreds in Fallouja protest Ahmadinejad's visit to Iraq
On Sunday hundreds staged a demonstration in Fallouja to protest the visit paid by the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Iraqi capital.
"The demonstration denounces Ahmadinejad's visit and calls for boycotting Iranian goods," Shaikh Abdullah Mohammed Al-Issawi, a demonstrator, told Aswat al-Iraq- Voices of Iraq- (VOI).
Al-Issawi said "the demonstration which passed through various streets in Fallouja was staged by NGOs, political parties, and unions in the city."
The protestors who held the old Iraqi flag, the flag with the three green stars in the middle, and walked into many parts of Fallouja, ended their demonstration with set ablaze (the new) Iraqi flag (adopted by the US-backed sectarian government).
"The demonstration is a message from the Iraqi people to Iran condemning the Iranian role in backing up the (Shiite) militia that killed hundreds of the Iraqi people," Sabah al-Alwani, a politician taking part in the demonstration, told VOI.
Earlier on Sunday, the Iranian president arrived in Baghdad on a
two-day-visit. Ahmadinejad met his Iraqi counterpart Jalal Talabani and
is expected to meet Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
JCS chairman arrives in Baghdad on eve of Ahmadinejad's visit
Baghdad - Voices of Iraq
Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Michael Mullen arrived in Baghdad on Saturday evening on an unannounced visit to Iraq on the eve of a landmark state visit by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
"Mullen will meet Iraqi leaders and officials ahead of his scheduled meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush in April to brief him on the future of military efforts in the country," the New York Times (NYT) newspaper said in its Sunday issue.
The paper hinted at "the absence of clear coordination on the timing of Admiral Mullen's visit, which coincides with Ahmadinejad's."
Ahmadinejad had arrived in Baghdad on Sunday morning with a high-level delegation The visit is the first ever paid by an Iranian president since 1979 after the two neighboring countries were at war from 1980 to 1988.
The United States accuses Iran of furnishing weapons and aid to armed groups in Iraq to fight U.S. forces, charges Iran vehemently denied.
U.S.-Iranian relations have been marred by
tension throughout the past decades, ever since the Shi'i clerics came
to power in the late 1970s after toppling Shah of Iran Mohammed Reza
Pahlavi, once the United States' strong ally.
New agreements reached with Ahmadinejad, says Iraqi President
Baghdad - Voices of Iraq
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on Sunday said many agreements were reached with the visiting Iranian president after meeting Ahmadinejad who earlier arrived in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
"We have reached many agreements with Iran in various fields, particularly in economic and political domains," Talabani told reporters in a news conference jointly held with Ahmadinejad.
Replying to a question as to amending the Iranian-Iraqi accord of 1975 in Algiers, Talabani said "We have never touched upon this issue in our meeting today."
On March 6, 1975, with the mediation of the former Algerian President Houari Boumedienne, Iraq – represented by the Vice President (at that time) Saddam Hussain and Iran – represented by the Shah Mohammed Ridha Pahlavi, signed in Algeria, the Algiers Accord to demark the borders between the two countries. By executing that accord, Iran officially agreed with Iraq to have part of Shatt Al-Arab under Iranian sovereignty, according to the Thalweg Line (meaning the median course of the Shatt Al-Arab waterway).
"The negotiations were positive and we are resolved to enhance cooperation in all fields," Talabani remarked.
Ahmadinejad who expressed happiness to visit Saddam-post Iraq said "I am here to consolidate the friendly ties between the two countries."
Earlier on Sunday, the Iranian president arrived
in Baghdad on a two-day-visit.
Powerful Iraq will benefit regional states: President
A united, powerful and developed Iraq would benefit all regional countries, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran said on Sunday after his first round of talks with President Jalal Talabani of Iraq.
Speaking at a joint press conference with President Talabani, the visiting president of Iran said his visit to Iraq opened "a new page in the history of Tehran-Baghdad relations" and would pave the way for further regional cooperation.
The Iranian president arrived in the Iraqi capital earlier on Sunday for a landmark visit to the country by an Iranian president after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.
He said the first round of his talks with President Talabani which was held at Talabani's residence in Baghdad, was "positive and good." "We have same understanding of things and the two parties are determined to strengthen their political, economic and cultural cooperation," President Ahmadinejad said.
He regretted that the people of Iraq were going through "tough times." "The people of Iraq will soon overcome the situation by relying on their natural, human and cultural potentials as well as their ancient civilization," President Ahmadinejad said.
He stressed that he "is very pleased with his visit to an Iraq not ruled by a dictator." The visit is taking place at the invitation of President Talabani.
President Ahmadinejad is accompanied by a number of his cabinet ministers including Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as well as ministers of energy, economy and transport and a group of Majlis deputies.
Before his departure for Baghdad, the President told reporters in Tehran that his visit aimed at consolidating bilateral friendly relations as well as cementing bilateral ties and cooperation between the two neighboring states.
Ahmadinejad is also due to confer with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, vice-president, heads of political parties, and officials of United Iraq Coalition and Iraqi Kurdistan administration.
Five to ten agreements are expected to be signed by officials of the two neighboring states on economic cooperation.
The Iranian and Iraqi ministers of energy would attend a ground breaking ceremony for establishment of two power plants in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. The projects are to be carried out with the help of Iranian experts.
Iraqi Ambassador in Tehran Mohammad Majeed al-Shaikh has earlier told IRNA that President Ahmadinejad's visit to Baghdad would play a major role in promotion of bilateral relations and cooperation in various political, economic and industrial fields.
Tight security measures have been put in place in Baghdad prior to the visit to Iraq of the Iranian president.
Iraqi presidential office spokesman had earlier told IRNA correspondent in Baghdad that 30,000 presidential guards are contributing to special security arrangements to guarantee the Iranian president's safety during the historic visit.
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