Saturday, March 1, 2008
Tomorrow's expected arrival in Baghdad of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad further illustrates the seemingly unresolvable complexities of nation-building inherent in the continuing U.S. military occupation of Iraq. The visit by Ahmadinejad, who stunned U.S. residents with outrageously self-serving remarks during a controversial speech to students at Columbia University in New York last year, will unavoidably showcase the failures and successes of the U.S. effort. Ahmadinejad will be the first Iranian leader to visit Iraq since the 1981-1988 war between the two countries that killed a million people. The United States has been mostly silent about the trip, which it has to be if Iraq is going to be an independent country. Iraq and Iran are neighbors with strong economic and cultural links, and will have to get along long after U.S. troops are gone. The two governments are now dominated by Shiite Muslims after the fall of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni. In fact, the U.S. accuses Iran of aiding Shiite militias in Iraq, a charged Ahmadinejad denies. Ahmadinejad plans to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, both Shi'ites, and President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, at Talabani's house in Baghdad's Karrada district and spend the night there, Iraqi officials said, according to the Reuters international news agency. They are expected to sign a list of agreements President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice do not stay in Iraq when they visit out of security concerns. But Ahmadinejad apparently will not visit the heavily fortified Green Zone, where U.S. military and Iraqi government headquarters are located.