President Rouhani recently paid a visit to Iraq.
This was the first visit since the Iranian leader assumed office in 2013 and importantly underscored just how integral relations between the Islamic Republic and Iraq are for both parties. Much can be said about the symbolism of his warm welcome and multi-day stay in the country compared to the brief photo-ops that American presidents take in military bases every once in a while during the rare occasion that they make a surprise visit there, which shows the difference between the organic multi-millennial ties that the Iranian and Iraqi people enjoy and the master-vassal relationship that the US has to Iraq. Building upon that, Rouhani was also sending the message that Iran is the country with predominant influence in Iraq and not the US despite the latter’s current low-level military deployment and the more than $2 trillion that it spent on the eight-year-long war there.
On a more tangible note, a lot has been written about how this trip will provide Iran with the much-needed “pressure valve” for evading the US’ unilateral sanctions regime and buffeting its economy from the planned shocks that Washington wants to inflict on it, and to this end it should be said that the two Mideast states enjoy a relationship of complex economic interdependence. Energy, commercial ties, transport links, industry, and agriculture form the foundation of their bilateral trade, but these can all be taken to a qualitatively higher level after Rouhani’s visit following the many deals that were signed between both sides. Not only could the long-term consequences contribute to an increase in living standards for their populations, but they can stabilize both of them from interconnected internal and external threats.
Iran has survived over 40 years of the multifaceted and ever-evolving HybridWar being waged against it, while Iraq miraculously overcame its fierce identity tensions to remain a unified state, and they can each complement one another’s stabilization measures by comprehensively expanding their ties with one another. The economy is especially important to focus on because people in both countries need reliable incomes and the hope of future career development in order to be convincingly dissuaded from undermining their governments through economic-motivated protests that might inadvertently play into the US’ strategic hands, to say nothing of being susceptible to the allure of comparatively better financed terrorist groups. As such, while most of the reporting about Rouhani’s trip tends to focus on the symbolism involved and the economic deals that were signed, the real purpose behind it was to strengthen both countries’ strategic security.
By Andrew Korybko
Source: Oriental Review