The Iraqi government is moving to solidify relations with Iran, even as the United States turns up the rhetorical heat and bolsters its military forces to confront Tehran's influence in Iraq.
Iraq's foreign minister, responding to a U.S. raid on an Iranian office in Irbil in northern Iraq last week, said Monday that the government intended to transform similar Iranian agencies into consulates. The minister, Hoshyar Zebari, also said the government planned to negotiate more border entry points with Iran.
Wow! So just as the Bushies become increasingly belligerent towards Iran, the Iraqi government moves ever so closer toward its next-door neighbor. So why the disconnect between the occupier and the occupied? Perhaps because Iraq has to live next to whatever happens in Iran, and vice-versa!
"We, as Iraqis, have our own interest," Zebari said in an interview with The Times. "We are bound by geographic destiny to live with" Iran, adding that the Iraqi government wanted "to engage them constructively."
Well, Mr. Zebari does have a point. It is in the Iraqis' best interest to have Iran as an ally. But how about having Iran as an economic lifeline?
American officials oppose the presence in Iraq of Iranian officials and members of the Revolutionary Guard, which is controlled by religious hard-liners in Iran. Washington and Tehran have been at odds for decades and are in a standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
But to Iraq, Iran is its biggest trading partner and a source of tourist revenue, mainly from the thousands of Shiite Muslim pilgrims who travel to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala every year.
In Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish north, much of the economy is founded on trade with Iran and the smuggling of contraband into the Islamic Republic. Since the 1979 founding of Iran's theocracy, Kurdistan has been a transit point for banned alcohol, movies and satellite dishes.
Wow, isn't this ironic? Just as Washington heats up the rhetoric against Tehran, both governments are propping up the same Iraqi "government"! Perhaps this is why Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is trying to have it both ways: He wants the US troop presence to remain, yet he also needs the Iranian money to keep flowing in.
But what would happen if our Spoiled-Brat-in-Chief were to have his way in going to war against Iran? What would then happen to Iraq? What would happen to the entire balance of the Middle East? There is just so much at risk, but Bush doesn't get it. This is why his daddy's friends in the Iraq Study Group recommended dialogue with Iran. Even the Iraqis recognize that without Iranian aid, they could face quite a dire situation.