28 Feb 2024

Sputnik - The recent agreement signed by Iraq and Iran on military cooperation should serve as a lesson to the US that regime change doesn't pay, Dr. Foad Izadi, Assistant Professor with the Faculty of World Studies at the University of Tehran, told Radio Sputnik.

Iraq and Iran have agreed toboost bilateral military cooperation inseveral areas, including anti-terrorism and the fight againstextremism. Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan and his Iraqi counterpart Erfan al-Hiyali signed the memorandum ofunderstanding ondefense inTehran onSunday, Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

"Extending cooperation and exchanging experiences infighting terrorism and extremism, border security, and educational, logistical, technical andmilitary supportare amongthe provisions ofthis memorandum," IRNA reported.

The agreement is bad news forthe US, which is opposed toIranian influence inIraq and had beenplanning onexpanding its own military facilities inIraq and Syria.

Dr. Foad Izadi, Assistant Professor withthe Faculty ofWorld Studies atthe University ofTehran, told Radio Sputnik that the deal is the natural consequence ofan improvement inbilateral relations sincethe US overthrew Saddam Hussein in2003.
"Since the fall ofSaddam Hussein, Iran and Iraq have extended their relations, the two governments are working together infighting ISIS (Daesh) and other terrorist organizations. They are cooperating atthe economic level, interms oftheir military cooperation. So, what you had a couple ofdays ago inTehran withthe visit ofthe Iraqi defense minister is the continuation ofthis friendship that exists betweenIran and Iraq," Izadi said.

The two sides had been preparing the document forseveral months and appear tobe committed tothe success ofthe defense accord.

"The fact that there were both Sunni and Shia members ofthe Iraqi government inthe delegation that came toIran, shows that the divisions that occasionally cause difficulties inthis part ofthe world are not a matter ofconcern. Iran is willing and able towork withall Iraqi officials no matter what religion or sect they belong to."

"I think they are basically followingnormal procedures interms ofimproving the relations betweenthe two countries. Not only are there no problems betweenthe two, butthey are finding more ways ofcooperating."

In addition tothe US, some regional powers such asSaudi Arabia will be disturbed bythe accord, Izadi said.
"Obviously, there are some countries inthis region which don't liketo see good relations betweenIran and Iraq, I think the Saudi government is not happy. TheSaudis are fighting all their neighborsand they want tosee Iran doing the same and Iran is not doing that. I think US officials are concerned aboutthese agreements, they are interested inhaving a monopoly inIraq and they want tokeep the troops they have there."

The US invasion and subsequent occupation ofIraq has led todestruction and hundreds ofthousands ofdeaths. Its continuing presence inthe country is destabilizing influence onIraq and the surrounding region, Izadi said.

"I think what Americans have proven sincetheinvasion ofIraq in2003is that their presence inIraq is not conducive tosecurity. I think the US government's presence inIraq causes more difficulty thanit does good and I think the Americans are not interested inthe wellbeing ofthe Iraqi people, they are generally interested intheir own economic and military interests. They would liketo use Iraq asa country toput pressure onIran, so they don't liketo see good relations betweenIran and Iraq."

"Unfortunately, US foreign policy inthis part ofthe world has not produced any security, it has contributed tothe spread ofterrorism and has actually killed a lot ofpeople."
"The best thing forthe people ofthis region is tohave a situation where the Americans are not around, because they have shown that their presence is not conducive toanything [positive]. I'm sure there are some arms companies that are happy withtheir sales butapart fromthem I don't think anyone else is happy withthe Americans being inthis part ofthe world."

The new defense agreement withIranwill help Iraq toprotect its borders and prevent terrorists fromentering the country, Izadi said.

"The number one priority forIraq is tomake sure the country's borders and sovereignty are respected another priority is having a functioning government. Iraq is a wealthy country, they have a lot ofoil so they should be able toprosper. But, they need tomake sure the government is independent fromforeign pressure, that it is representative ofits citizens."

After a successful military campaign inMosul, the Iraqi army now has tofinally rid the country ofthe last remaining pockets ofterrorists. Preventing the US and Saudi Arabia frominterfering inIraqi affairs will also be "crucial" tothe country's prosperity.
"This type ofinterference initially supporting a dictator and later overthrowing the same dictator that they propped upusing military force is a sad history ofIraq. What needs tohappen is that the US government should learn fromthis history and not repeat it. Unfortunately, you don't see these lessons learned bythe US government."

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