Thursday, 12 June 2008

Iraq - End of the American dream?

PressTV's Middle East Today investigates the implications of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's recent visit to Tehran.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has just completed a three day visit to Tehran, his third since taking office.

Before his arrival, there was widespread speculation in the Western media that, among other agenda items, Maliki would be challenging the Iranian government to explain allegations that Tehran was arming militia groups, and in the words of US General Petraeus, generally being a malign influence in Iraq.

The reality couldn’t have been any different. The talks included assurances from Maliki that he would never allow Iraq to be a jumping off point for any aggression against Iran. His words effectively and officially poured cold water over US plans for a substantial long term presence in the country.

In fact, in what many analysts perceive as a US reaction to the Maliki visit, officials in Washington have now admitted that they are not optimistic that a Status of Forces Agreement will be signed with Baghdad before George Bush leaves office next January.

And in what must be a stinging blow to US pride, Iraq and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding on expanding military cooperation between the two countries.

Iraq’s Defense Minister asked his Iranian counterpart to help Baghdad build up its military to ensure both internal and regional stability.

It must getting fairly obvious to the Bush administration, that in many ways Baghdad is leaning closer to Tehran than it is to Washington.

Negotiations over the Status of Forces Agreement has strained relations between the US and Iraq, and the assertive foreign policy of Maliki suggests that he can no longer really be considered as Washington’s man in Baghdad.

The question is, how close and how far will Tehran-Baghdad ties develop? and what impact will this have on Baghdad’s relationship with Washington.

And I suppose we have to look at Washington’s potential reaction. After all, to be perfectly frank they are hardly likely to write off their incalculable losses in Iraq, and just simply hand the country absolute sovereignty to deal with whomever they please.

For Washington hawks, simply accepting the especially close ties between Iraq and Iran would be tantamount to handing the country over to Tehran, and that simply isn’t going to happen, either with this or any future president.

On the panel to discuss a whole range of related issues were:

In Washington, Erik Leaver, a Research Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

In New York, we welcomed back David Katz, Homeland Security Expert

and from From San Francisco, David Solnit, Anti War Activist (published interview)

On the phone from London, we were joined by Malak Hamdan, from Solidarity for an Independent and Unified Iraq.

Watch the entire show, Iraq - End of the American dream? on the PressTV archive.

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