Regional Cooperation Crucial to Ensuring Mideast Security

Iran and Iraq’s mutual geographical interests are complementary, Iraq’s defense minister said
Regional Cooperation Crucial to Ensuring Mideast Security
Regional Cooperation Crucial to Ensuring Mideast Security

Iraq’s defense minister highlighted the geographical and geopolitical importance of the Middle East region, stressing the need for cooperation and interaction to ensure its security. 
Thabet Muhammad al-Abbasi, who was meeting his Iranian counterpart in Tehran on Sunday, also pointed to Iran and Iraq’s mutual geographical interests, describing them as “complementary”, ISNA reported.  
“A strong Iran will make Iraq strong and mutually, a strong Iraq will bring about a powerful Iran,” he said, adding that through this course, regional challenges and crises will be addressed.
Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani said Iran and Iraq enjoy a geopolitical connection that covers ethnic, religious, cultural, economic and energy parameters and should be promoted as a cause for unity between the two countries. 
“Unity and solidarity of the two nations is the very strength that the enemies of both countries intend to hit,” he said. 
Pointing to efforts by enemies to destroy or weaken these relations, it is essential for both sides to be alert about such schemes, according to Ashtiani. 
He said Tehran-Baghdad relations are deeply-rooted and growing, as evidenced by multiple meetings between top-ranking political, economic and military officials, the volume of trade and energy cooperation.
The decision to hold a joint economic commission in the coming days in Baghdad, the Iranian foreign minister’s recent visit to Iraq and the exchange of pilgrims are also among indications of strong ties between the two neighbors, the minister added. 


Baghdad intends to reconstruct its armed forces and is interested in cooperation with Iran, according to its defense chief  

Al-Abbasi called for further expansion of relations, underlining the Iraqi government’s will to establish a joint commission, as well as its serious plans for following up previous agreements and listing both sides’ interests and needs. 
He also pointed to Baghdad’s decision to reconstruct the Iraqi armed forces after a long battle with terrorist groups, expressing interest in using Iran’s capacities for technical, technological and training cooperation. 
“Iraqi armed forces are still fighting terrorism and the [self-styled Islamic State] … Iran has helped us and we are thankful,” he said. 
The Iranian minister said the Islamic Republic’s policy on Iraq involves support for its unity and integrity and contribution to its stability, security, progress and welfare. 
“We are ready to share our experiences so that you can achieve independence and self-sufficiency in the defense industry and the Islamic Republic’s defense ministry stands beside you with all its power,” he told the Iraqi minister.  
Ashtiani later pointed to the presence of terrorist groups and their hidden and active cores in Iraq, including in bordering provinces with Iran, calling them a potiential and actual danger for the national security of both countries. 
“The need for military, intelligence and security coordination between the two countries has become greater than before,” he said. 
The top defense official said experience has proved that the presence of non-regional countries in every part of the world has resulted in insecurity and division. 
“This presence in our region is aimed at guaranteeing the transit of energy and consolidating the Zionist regime’s security belt through artificial crises and dispute and conflict among Muslim countries,” he said. 
He stressed that this presence has never been for the claimed purpose of promoting human rights and democracy and assisting the people of the region. 
The two ministers also agreed to enhance cooperation to ensure security along the shared borders. 
This was the Iraqi minister’s first bilateral meeting after the formation of a government in Baghdad. 

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