Expert: Iran-Iraq Defense Deal Bad News for US

Iranian and Iraqi defense ministries signed a memorandum of understanding on military collaboration in Tehran on July 23. Iranian and Iraqi defense ministries signed a memorandum of understanding on military collaboration in Tehran on July 23.

The recent agreement signed by Iraq and Iran on military cooperation should serve as a lesson to the US that its hostile policy on Iran does not pay, said Foad Izadi, assistant professor with the Faculty of World Studies at the University of Tehran.

Iraq and Iran have agreed to boost bilateral military cooperation in several areas, including anti-terrorism and the fight against extremism.

Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan and his Iraqi counterpart Erfan al-Hiyali signed the memorandum of understanding on defense collaboration in Tehran on Sunday.

Izadi, who is also an international relations expert, said the agreement is bad news for the US, which is opposed to Iranian influence in Iraq and plans to expand its own military facilities in Iraq and Syria.

He told Sputnik in a recent interview that the deal is the natural consequence of an improvement in bilateral relations since the US overthrew former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

"Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iran and Iraq have expanded their relations, the two governments are working together in fighting [the self-styled] Islamic State and other terrorist organizations. They are cooperating at the economic level … So, the visit of the Iraqi defense minister to Tehran a couple of days ago has led to the continuation of this friendship," Izadi said.

"The fact that there were both Sunni and Shia members of the Iraqi government in the delegation that came to Iran shows that the divisions that occasionally cause difficulties in this part of the world are not a matter of concern. Iran is willing and able to work with all Iraqi officials, irrespective of their religion or sect."

  Other Opponents

Izadi noted that in addition to the US, some regional powers such as Saudi Arabia will also be disturbed by the accord.

"Obviously, there are some countries in the region, which don't like to see good relations between Iran and Iraq; I think the Saudi government is not happy. The Saudis are fighting with all their neighbors and they want to see Iran doing the same and Iran is not doing that. I think US officials are concerned about these agreements. They are interested in having a monopoly in Iraq and they want to keep the troops they have there," he said.

The analyst reminded that the US invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq led to destruction and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, adding that its continuing presence in the country is destabilizing Iraq and the surrounding region.

"I think what Americans have proven since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 is that their presence in Iraq is not conducive to security. I think the US government's presence in Iraq causes more difficulty than it does good and I think the Americans are not interested in the wellbeing of the Iraqi people; they are generally interested in their own economic and military interests. They would like to use Iraq as a country to put pressure on Iran, so they don't like to see good relations between Iran and Iraq," he said.

  US Ineffective Policies  

Izadi further said US foreign policy in this part of the world has not produced any security and instead contributed to the spread of terrorism.

"The best thing for the people of this region is to have a situation where the Americans are not around, because they have shown that their presence is not conducive to anything [positive]. I'm sure there are some arms companies that are happy with their sales, but apart from them I don't think anyone else is happy with the Americans being in this part of the world," he said.

The international relations expert noted that the new defense agreement with Iran will help Iraq protect its borders and prevent terrorists from entering the country.

Izadi said that after a successful military campaign against IS in Mosul, the Iraqi Army now has to finally rid the country of the last remaining pockets of terrorists.

Preventing the US and Saudi Arabia from interfering in Iraqi affairs will also be 'crucial' to the country's prosperity, he added.

"This type of interference—initially supporting a dictator and later overthrowing the same dictator that they propped up using military force—is a sad history of Iraq. What needs to happen is that the US government should learn from this history and not repeat it."

Izadi concluded that unfortunately, the US government has not learnt these lessons.

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