EghtesadOnline: Iran needs to prove to the Iraqis that it fully respects their country's political independence and to refrain from overemphasizing religious commonalities as the only decisive factor in bilateral ties, a political analyst says.
In a recent article published by the Iranian Diplomacy website, Ahmad Zeidabadi wrote that the recent objections by some Iraqis to Iran’s role in the Arab country are seemingly not "accidental" and are a "matter of concern" if seen in the context of Iran's long-term interests.
Iraq has been gripped by an unprecedented wave of deadly protests in recent weeks, with thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets, determined to upend the political order.
When protests first began, grievances centered on the lack of jobs and basic services. But demands for a better life soon evolved into calls for the government to resign as well as sporadic chants against Iran's political influence in the neighboring country, according to Financial Tribune.
Zeidabadi believes that the roots of the issue should be properly analyzed to help save bilateral ties.
"From the geopolitical point of view, it is absolutely necessary to preserve friendly relations between Iran and Iraq because it ensures peaceful coexistence between the two countries. Therefore, efforts should be made toward this end under any circumstances," he said.
"We can attribute recent demonstrations to a conspiracy by the United States, Saudi Arabia and the UAE aimed at eliminating or reducing Iran's influence in Iraq and consider the issue solved. However, it is more like avoiding the resolution of the problem instead of trying to solve it.”
Nature of Ties
The fact that Shia Iraqis are not seeing through the "hidden hands" or have allowed themselves to be swept by the unfolding scenario is rooted in how Tehran speaks about the nature of its ties with Baghdad, the article read.
"In fact, Iran sees its relations with Iraq only through the religious perspective. Religious commonalities can naturally be regarded as a very important factor in ties. However, if it is exaggerated and emphasized more strongly than it should be, it can be swayed by nationalistic sentiments," he said, referring to the fact that both countries are Shia-majority.
So when Iran defines its relations with Iraq mostly based on religious commonalities, certain people would exploit the Iraqis' nationalism to pit them against Iran, the article read.
"All nations want to be known as a proud and independent nation," the political analyst said, adding that the decision by some Iranian media outlets or officials to paint Iraq as a country that is dependent on Iran definitely infuriates the Iraqis.
"Iran needs to revise some of its policies … in order to ensure a close relationship with Iraq. It should show the Iraqis that bonds between the two countries are based on common interests and full respect for Iraq's political independence," he said.
Zeidabadi noted that any delay in this regard would lead to Iran's long-term interests being negatively affected by street protests in Iraq.