Saturday, June 21, 2008

The friend of our enemy is our friend...the complex and ironic relationship between the United States, Iraq, and Iran

While writing this post, I was unable to get the lyrics to Bob Marley's renowned song One Love out of my just seemed so fitting, yet so far off (Okay, I was actually playing it on my iTunes).

The position that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and the Iraqi government are currently in is quite an interesting one. Just think, recently, on a trip to Iran, Maliki visited the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, while not long before that, he was over here in the United States visiting with the families of U.S. service members getting ready to deploy to an Iraq, something the Iranians are vehemently opposed to--and make clear on a daily basis. I often wonder to myself why this question is not asked more often. Sure, it does come up, but seriously, look at these two pictures below.

Here, PM Maliki is meeting with President Bush, with the flags of Iraq and the United States proudly displayed across from one another. The Iraqi government has reiterated its support for American troops to remain in Iraq to counter the insurgency, rebuild the country, and set it on the right path towards democracy. American currently has over 150,000 troops in Iraq, and even with an upcoming presidential election, that number is unlikely to be greatly reduced anytime soon (even if Big O becomes the next president, I think he'll even acknowledge the importance of staying in Iraq)...and this is at the request of a democratically elected government headed by the Islamic Da'wa Party, of which PM Maliki is a member of.

And who is one of Dawa's biggest supporters: Iran.

That is right--Iran. Here, you can see Maliki and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holding hands in brotherly affection. I couldn't imagine that Ahmadinejad is not well aware of the fact that his Iraqi brother has stood by the side of President George W. Bush, whom Ahmadinejad routinely attacks, and vise-versa. Indeed, Iraq is in quite a precarious position between what the United States has labeled as "The Axis of Evil" and what the Revolutionaries in Iran have labeled as "The Great Satan".

On his recent trip to Iraq, Ahmadinejad stated that it was a good thing to see Iraq free of Saddam Hussein...okay, so who does he think removed Saddam Hussein? It certainly wasn't Muqtada Al-Sadr, or any other Iraqi nationalist figure with connections to Tehran. In fact, this is often tied into the debate over whether or not the United States should have gone into Iraq...some critics of President Bush believe he empowered the Iranians by removing Saddam Hussein, and there is no argument that Iran's influence in the region has grown without Saddam's regime on its western border. Yet for some reason, relations between the United States and Iran could not be at a lower point, never mind that both of them have benefited from the removal of Saddam's Hussein's regime in Iraq, as well as the ousting of the Taliban in Afghanistan, where the United States and Iran actually worked together! Much like the Government of Iraq, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is also a strong supporter of the positive influence he says is coming from Iran and the United States.

So here's what I am wondering. First off, why won't the American and Iranian government face the reality that is inconvenient when the two nations trade barbs, accusations, and threats at each other? Second, why can't Maliki and Karzai bring this issue up, whether they are walking down a red carpet outside the White House or at a receiving ceremony in Tehran? If Iran and the United States truly see Iraq and Afghanistan as strategic allies, then perhaps it is time they trust them to play a much needed role as mediator...a positive role at mediation amongst allies could be the difference between more violence, conflict and war, and a partnership that could prove to make the world a better place in the end.

The United States and Iran will not be able to settle their differences on their own...the leaders of both countries have gone out of their way to make it as difficult as possible, unfortunately. Just look at the recent breakdown of U.S.-Iranian talks on Iraqi security. However, this appeal I am making is to the allies of both countries. A mention of this at a press conference by Al-Maliki or Karzai (whether they be with Bush, the next U.S. President, Ahmadinejad, or Khamenei) would certainly put the issue to the forefront, because it is a reality that cannot be ignored while Iran and the United States battle it out on many fronts to achieve power on the world stage.


Sandybelle said...

Iraq, Iran and US, it can be a complex idea...
But I agree that new Iraq should be free from all the fightings and should carry the message to all the world, that living peacefully is the great solution for the all.
Iraq could be the peace messenger between the US and Iran, because as Iraq needs all the other countries to stand by its side, it needs the US and Iran.and Iraqis are sick of the disputes and the wars with the others , so the main feature of the new Iraq is calling for peace :) :)
Let's pray for the peace, and lookforward to lving that day, when no one feel of fear or horror and when we can see the all united together , for peace...
Good job and keep going :)

programmer craig said...

Good post, CH, but I disagree with you about Iran. I don't think the US and Iran can ever "resolve" their differences, as long as the current regime in Iran is in power. The grievances are very real, and in 30 years nobody has made a sincere attempt to resolve a single one of them. The hostage takers from the 1979 embassy takeover are treated as national icons and heroes in Iran, for instance. If the IRI had any interest in improving relations with the US, those people would be extradited to the US to stand trial for hostage taking and terrorism, instead. Any American who is old enough to remember 1979 is not going to forget that national humiliation we suffered for 444 long days. And that is over half of the US population. I live in LA where the largest population of Iranians outside of Iran lives, and I've had many Iranian friends over the years, but the IRI is completely unacceptable in my opinion. It is good for Iraq to have good relations with Iran, but the US should stay out of that. Iran is NOT our friend. Iran is our worst enemy.

C.H. said...

Craig, I agree with many of the points you have made. But it is also worth noting that a significant majority (its said to be over 70%) of Iran's population was born after the 1979 Revolution, and they might hold the key to bringing about reform in the country, without having to bring about more instability in the region or start another conflict...a military confrontation with Iran would no doubt erase all the gains that have been made in Iraq and Afghanistan. Reaching out to the Iranian people is the best option we have, I believe.

You are right, Khomeini brought great harm to Iran, and the current regime has done nothing to try and improve its relationship with America...but wouldn't you agree that it is a little odd that Maliki, a staunch U.S. ally, is touring American military bases in the United States, while visiting Ahmadinejad in Tehran?

Sanydbelle--you are absolutely correct, let's pray for peace, and pray that Iraq can serve as a peace messenger between the two countries. I believe that Iran has a beautiful culture, and I hope I have the chance to see it someday, with an Iraq next door that is just as peaceful and beautiful.

programmer craig said...

ch, I don't consider Iran to be at all related to Iraq or Afghanistan. America's problems with Iran go back much further, and are much more grievous. I personally never believed the US had cause to invade Iraq (Afghanistan there is no question about since that's where Al Qaeda was when they conducted the 9/11 attacks) but the US has had cause to go to war with Iran since 1979. it is LONG overdue. I don't believe the burden should be on the US to avert a war with Iran. If the Islamic Republic wishes to avert a war with the US, there are steps that could be taken, in addition to the example I already gave. So far, it doesn't seem as if there is any interest in Iran in averting a war. That's a shame. Iran has no chance of winning such a confrontation, and that confrontation has been coming for a long time. I am a believer in peace, but I am not a believer in peace at any price. The US is the IRI's most hated enemy. The IRI has conducted numerous terrorist attacks over the years, most of them against the US. If and when Iran builds nuclear weapons, I for one do not trust them not to use them. And if they do use them, I don't think they will use them against Israel - Iran has never cared about the Arab/Israeli conflict the way Arabs do. The US is Iran's number one enemy. They will use them against us. Are you willing to let Los Angeles or NYC be destroyed before you'd support war with Iran? I am not. We should have never let things get to this point. Jimmy carter was a coward for not invading Iran in 1979 when they seized our embassy. If he had, we'd be living in a better world today. I don't want to be sitting here 10 years from now and saying "If only we had done something about the Islamic Republic of Iran when we had the chance". Do you?

but wouldn't you agree that it is a little odd that Maliki, a staunch U.S. ally, is touring American military bases in the United States, while visiting Ahmadinejad in Tehran?

I don't think that is odd at all. He is concerned for the future of his country, and his people. But that has nothing to do with the US/Iran issue. It's unfortunate that the US is still in Iraq, it makes things a little awkward for everybody, but I'd be surprised if Maliki was not trying to establish good relations with Iran. I'm sure no Iraqi wants to be involved in whatever is coming.

programmer craig said...

Interesting discussion amongst Iranians on the issue of bringing about change from within. Some people arguing that it can never happen, and some people claiming that it can if the conditions are right. Personally, I think the second group are just arguing for the status quo and pretending like they want the IRI gone :)

webdesign brno said...

Like i read yesterday "My home , your war" , this sums up the position of iraq and Iraqi people.

Data Entry said...

what a mess . after seeing US and iraq , this is what whole world is saying .