Monday, August 30, 2004

Iran-Iraq ties growing stronger day by day

Description of Selected News: "Iran-Iraq ties growing stronger day by day

By Hassan Hanizadeh
A delegation of high-ranking Iraqi interim government officials headed by interim Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh arrived in Tehran on Saturday to hold talks with officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Over the past several days, the Iraqi officials have met with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, Interior Minister Abdulvahed Musavi-Lari, and Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hassan Rowhani.

In light of the recent events in Najaf and certain Iraqi interim officials’ harsh and illogical remarks about Iran, which affected ties between the two neighboring Muslim countries, the Iraqi delegation’s visit to Iran is of great significance at this sensitive juncture.

Due to the fact that insecurity in Iraq has a direct and negative influence on other regional states, Iran has made strenuous efforts to help restore peace and stability in Iraq over the past 17 months. However, certain misunderstandings undermined and decreased the effectiveness of its efforts.

The root of these misunderstandings is the fact that neither the occupying forces nor certain Arab states are willing to accept that Iraq and Iran have numerous religious, cultural, and political affinities that cannot be ignored.

Over the past century, many rulers of Iraq, such as the Ottoman Empire, the British colonialists, the Iraqi monarchy, and the Baath regime, attempted to weaken the religious ties between the two nations, but now this relationship is growing stronger day by day.

Cutting off these bilateral relations was one of the goals of the eight-year war that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein imposed on the Iranian nation. Indeed, Saddam did everything he could to foster animosity between the two nations. However, the Islamic Republic was always regarded as the main base and the frontline of the Iraqi nation’s struggles against Saddam’s totalitarian regime. Thus, the ties between the two nations were never broken.

The collapse of the Baath regime allowed the two nations to strengthen their ties, and the frequent visits of each country’s nationals to the other country’s holy sites are signs of the depth of these ties.

Today, despite the positions adopted by certain Iraqi interim government officials who have accused Iran of complicity in the recent events in Najaf, the Iraqi majority still views the Islamic Republic of Iran as their only real ally.

Yet, events over the past 17 months have shown that regional and international conspiracies to marginalize the majority of the Iraqi nation are being formulated. Thus, this significant segment of the Iraqi populace expects Iran to use its influence in the international arena to neutralize these conspiracies.

There are a number of outstanding political and security issues that need to be addressed in the talks between the Iraqi delegation and Iranian officials.

First and foremost, the Iraqi officials must clarify the issues of the recent kidnapping in Iraq of an Iranian diplomat and Iranian commerce officials as well as the activities of the terrorist Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), which is supported by the United States.

Facilitating Iranian nationals’ visits to holy sites in Iraq and preparing a work schedule for Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s upcoming trip to Iran are also on the agenda of the Iraqi delegation."

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