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The Iraqi Pilgrimage to Iran - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Without equivocation, a large number of politicians, and particularly key players in the elections, flocked to Tehran to hold meetings with senior officials of the Iranian regime including General Qassim Sulaimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Al Quds Corps and the official responsible for Iraqi affairs.

Has the Iraqi issue ended up with the Iranians in control of Iraq and its presidential appointments? Any body who knows the political arena cannot state with confidence that Iran has no role or value regarding Iraq, especially now. On the contrary, every one knows that Iran has an important role, and key players are expected to take into consideration Iranian interests that overlap with Iraqi interests, but not at the expense of Iraq’s own national interests.

What seems to be happening is that rivals are making pilgrimage to Tehran and are calling on the Iranians for help so that it can interfere and help them gain power, and give its blessing by bringing alliances together to achieve the required parliamentary quota or endorse them and reject their rivals. Those people have actually made their country Iraq a banana republic and inferior to a hostile regime that will not allow any of those politicians to go against Iran’s demands. We should not forget that in the future it will not be easy for Iraq to confront Iranian-Iraqi problems whilst Iran is under the current regime led by the Revolutionary Guard Corps. These problems include border disputes, oil fields, joint waterways, foreign relations with the US etc. In addition, the struggle within the supreme Iranian leadership may reflect on the Iraqi alliances in Iraq.

I expect that those flocking to Tehran would respond to this and justify it by saying that Iraqi politicians travelled to Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Damascus and Cairo, so why accuse them of treachery when they visit their Iranian neighbour? No one is objecting to Iraq’s right to contact Iran but we cannot ignore the fears that neighbouring countries have that Iraq will be transformed into another Lebanon, which had a complex relationship with Syria. [Lebanese] political party leaders had to wait outside the door of a [Syrian] military officer like Ghazi Kanaan before he would allow them to enter or expect a phone call from him just to deal with purely local issues. We do not want a large country like Iraq, which has such huge potential and natural resources with which it could be the richest of all countries in the region, to find itself in a similar situation. The visit made by senior Iraqi politicians to Iran to meet General Sulaimani signals a shameful or rather a worrying stage for the country and the people of Iraq.

By visiting Iran as part of a group of people seeking senior positions, the Iraqi President Jalal Talibani reflected the magnitude of the forthcoming disaster. Why Talibani in particular? Because apart from being the president over the past four years and representing legitimacy and history, it also shows that the belief within Iraq today is that the politicians who did not care about the Mullahs of Tehran have also entered this very tunnel of darkness. What makes Iran very attractive to a political leader like Talibani is that instead of reforming the leadership of his party and his nation in Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq, his main concern now is to restore his electoral losses by bringing the Iranians into the Iraqi arena in order to be the president once again.

All of those who abandoned Talibani and voted for his rivals in the last election cannot be won over again just by getting Iran to interfere. Unfortunately, this leader, who fought against injustices during Saddam Hussein’s era, today, is seeking to replace the Saddam regime with another that is no better. The Ahmadinejad-Sulaimani regime in Iran is no better than Saddam’s regime and has been facing an electoral problem since last June 2009. If the Iranian regime is unable to manage the affairs of its own country and will face a forthcoming siege, how can Talabani turn to it for help to manage rule in Baghdad? They are importing a wounded regime from Iran to remedy their defeats or failures in Iraq; in other words, they are demolishing everything they have built just to make alliances, which they could easily achieve without lowering themselves to such a level politically.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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