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Ahmadinejad’s visit to Iraq

Babak Yektafar: Iran asserts regional influence

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Story Transcript

VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to former enemy Iraq on Sunday was the first by an Iranian president. The two countries fought a long and bloody war in the 1980s. Mr. Ahmadinejad was in Iraq on invitation from the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. The Real News spoke with Babak Yektafar about the purpose of the Iranian president’s historic visit.

BABAK YEKTAFAR: Mr. Ahmadinejad’s trip was to show Iran’s further moves in establishing a foothold in the region as a power base in the region, a country that can help financially, a country that can help in terms of security, just to get the point across, as they’ve been trying so hard, that there needs to be some sort of a regional integration. What is important to realize about Iraq is what a number of countries in the region—Saudi Arabia, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and so on—have said, in that whether or not we like Iran’s policy or what they do in regards to their nuclear program or their interference in Iraq, they are a country that are neighbors, and we have to live with that. The second aspect is that I think what we’re hearing a great deal from these countries is that they have lost a bit of faith in the United States’ capability in providing the kind of security blanket that they require in regards to—vis-à-vis Iran. And so I think we are seeing a lot of movement by these countries themselves: the invitation by the Saudi King to Mr. Ahmadinejad to attend the Haj a couple of months ago, the talks that have been taking place in Egypt between Iran and Egypt who have not had formal relations since the revolution, and the invitation to Mr. Ahmadinejad to attend the Gulf Cooperation Council, which was the first time that an Iranian president has been invited. This is also a move by the Iranian president to bolster his position at home. As we know, there is the Majlis, the Iranian Majlis elections coming up in a week or two. And a lot of observers are saying that his position is not as stable or as solid as he had hoped, and he’s hoping that by this trip, along with some of the trips he had in the region, can be used to show that he had made some advances, even though the pressure by the international community [inaudible] resolutions, [inaudible] resolutions has kind of increased the pressure economically on the country.

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Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.