Even as Iraq prepares to sign a security arrangement with the U.S., Maliki assures Ahmadinejad that Iraq will not be a base for an operation against Iran, and says he wants closer ties between the two states. Is the creation of an Iranian client state in Iraq proceeding apace?
“Iraq pledges closer ties with Iran,” by Ashraf Khalil for the Los Angeles Times, June 9 (thanks to Looney Tunes):
BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, in a visit to Iran where he met Sunday with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, pledged closer ties between the two neighbors at the same time Baghdad is negotiating a long-term security agreement with the U.S.
The proposed pact with Washington would establish a legal framework for the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq after the United Nations mandate expires at the end of this year.
Iranian officials have repeatedly expressed concerns in recent weeks that the agreement would simply formalize the presence of dozens of American military bases.
In a round-table public affairs program broadcast on Iranian television, one panelist compared American bases in Iraq to the installation of Russian missiles in Cuba during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
But Maliki, after his meeting with Ahmadinejad, said the U.S. agreement would help maintain and enhance Iraq’s security situation, which remains fragile.
“A stable Iraq will be a benefit to the security of the region and the world,” Maliki said, according to Ahmadinejad’s official website.
The Iranian leader, however, indicated concerns that an agreement could lead to long-term American domination of Iraq.
“Iraq must reach a certain level of stability,” he said, according to an Associated Press report, “so that its enemies are not able to impose their influence.”
Maliki, after arriving in Tehran on Saturday, had said his government would “not allow Iraq to become a platform for harming the security of Iran,” the semiofficial Fars News Agency reported….