Contextual Content

Iran opposes Iraq/US security pact

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told visiting Iraqi prime
minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday that the US military presence was the
main cause of Iraq’s problems, making clear his opposition to a US-Iraqi
security pact.

Al-Maliki’s discussions with the Iranian officials during his three-day
visit focused on the proposed US-Iraq security agreement that will keep
the American military in neighboring Iraq for years.

The prime minister tried to encourage Iranian leaders to back down from
their fierce opposition to the proposed pact, promising that Iraq would
not be a launching pad for any attack on Iran. The Real News Network’s Senior News Analyst Aijaz Ahmad comments.

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Story Transcript

CARLO BASILONE (VOICEOVER): Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday that the US military presence was the main cause of Iraq’s problems, making clear his opposition to a US-Iraq security pact. Al-Maliki’s discussions with Iranian officials during his three-day visit focused on the proposed US-Iraq security agreement that will keep the American military in neighboring Iraq for years. The prime minister tried to encourage Iranian leaders to back down from their fierce opposition to the proposed pact, promising that Iraq would not be a launching pad for any attack on Iran. Iran, which has repeatedly said the way to end instability in Iraq was for US forces to withdraw, believes the proposed security pact could lead to permanent US bases on its doorsteps, amid fears of an eventual American attack. Al-Maliki’s visit to Tehran, his second this year, appeared aimed at getting Iran to tone down its opposition and ease criticisms within Iraq. There have been weekly protests in Iraq against the deal and strong criticism in Parliament, even from members of al-Maliki’s old Shiite-dominated coalition. An editorial in the Lebanon Daily Star entitled "Bush’s last-ditch bid to make Iraq a protectorate isn’t fooling anyone" says:

(TEXT ON SCREEN): "… it was widely argued that what the Bush administration really wanted was fuller access to cheap oil and a new base from which to dominate the Middle East. Now that Washington is in the process of negotiating a "Status Of Forces Agreement" with Baghdad to regulate the US military presence in Iraq, it is becoming clearer than ever that these last two goals have topped the agenda all along and that they might be the only "achievements" (in the imperial sense) still within America’s grasp."

BASILONE: We spoke to The Real News Network’s senior analyst, Aijaz Ahmad.

AIJAZ AHMAD, SENIOR ANALYST, THE REAL NEWS: Well, look, some two weeks after the occupation of Baghdad, General Tommy Franks went on record saying that there are going to be US forces in Iraq on the model of Korea, where there have been US forces now for almost 60 years. A permanent military base in Iraq has been an objective of this invasion from the beginning. The kind of bases that they have built, these are the largest bases the US has ever built outside its own territory. What the US wants is bases, vast bases in Iraq in perpetuity, with limited sovereignty for any Iraqi government, present or future, which will have no control, juridic or operational, on these troops. That issue came to a head last November, when the Bush administration and the al-Maliki government started negotiating what they are calling "The Status of Forces Agreement." The Iraqi parliamentarians, a large number of them, including people from his own Shia coalition, are profoundly opposed to it, the Iraqi people are profoundly opposed to this, and al-Maliki government is caught. Now, al-Maliki has gone on his second visit to Iran this year, trying to persuade the Iranis to accept this, which is most unlikely. Iranis will never approve of US bases so close to their border. This is, I think, a lost cause, but it’s a sort of a desperate effort to get the Iranis behind them.

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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.