The Bush administration has strengthened the Shiite regime in Teheran. Relations between Teheran and Baghdad were never as good as today.
By Rainer Rupp
[This article published in: Junge Welt 8/4/2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.jungewelt.de/2005/08-04/006.php.]
Things are not looking very good for US president George Bush. American youths cannot be dying in Baghdad to stabilize a Shiite regime that cooperates closely with the Mullahs in Teheran. This is the tenor of the increasingly critical commentary on the provisional result of Bush’s Iraq war. The Teheran-Baghdad axis threatens to permanently change the whole Middle East to the disadvantage of American interests in the region, the republican Pat Buchanan warns.
In fact, political control in Iraq already seems to be slipping away from Washington. Developments in the occupied Tigris-Euphrates area point in the opposite direction to what the neo-conservative warlords desired before the 2003 Gulf invasion. So-called Middle East experts had emphasized repeatedly that a genuine cooperation between the Iraqi and Iranian Shiites would never occur: the Iraqis are ultimately Arabs and the Iranians Persians. They originate from two historically hostile ethnic groups. However, cooperation between the two neighbors could hardly be any closer two years after the US invasion.
In May 2005 the Iraqi defense minister Sagdoun Dulaimi paid a goodwill visit to Teheran and negotiated military collaboration there. In the middle of July, the Iraqi interim president Ibrahim Dschaafari accompanied by eight ministers traveled to the Iranian capital for a three-day visit. According to press reports, the Iraqi delegation was “heartily received” by the “supreme leader of the Islamic revolution,” Ayatollah Khamenei, and Iranian ministers. The five comprehensive economic, political and military agreements signed at this meeting made clear the will of the two neighbors for close cooperation much to the chagrin of the US.
The military agreement between Baghdad and Teheran exceeded Washington's limit of tolerance. It provided for the training of Iraqi soldiers in Iran along with exchange of secret service information and joint combating of terrorism. The US occupiers stressed to their Prime Minister Dschaafari this would not be allowed. To limit the loss of face for the “sovereign” Iraqi government, Iraqi police and soldiers can be trained in Jordan by US and NATO troops according to international agreements.
Counteracting the new Iran-Iraq economic agreement will be far more difficult for the US. The energy ministers of the two countries agreed that Iraqi oil will be pumped from Basra to the refineries in Iran and Iraq will obtain gasoline and other finished products scarce in US-occupied Iraq. Three pipelines between the two countries should be completed within the next ten months. In addition, Iran will build urgently needed schools, hospitals and bookstores in Iraq amounting to a billion dollars. Many Iranian construction firms are engaged in Iraq and collaborate with Iraqi businesses.
Through the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Bush administration seems to ultimately play into the hands of the Mullahs in Iran. War critics in Washington are not alone with this discovery. The only force that with unscrupulous means could have blocked the export of the Shiite-Islamic revolution, the Iraqi Baath-party, was shattered by the US right after the invasion in Baghdad. Its militant followers are mercilessly persecuted up to today. Contrary to its intention, the Bush administration has strengthened Iran and handed oil-rich Iraq on a platter to militant Shiites and followers of the Islamic revolution as a springboard to the entire region.
The more obvious the missing of the targets and the failure of the Bush administration, the greater the danger that the White House could be tempted to straighten developments in the Middle East according to US conceptions with another war, this time against Iran. However, the assurance of the US-banked government in Baghdad that war against Iran would never start from Iraqi soil may thwart some Pentagon plans.