Iraq and Iran: Still the Axis of Evil?

I have to wonder what George Bush must be thinking as Iraq’s elected Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari readies for his trip next week to Iran.

I wonder if he’s surprised that the two countries have recently inked a deal to have the Iranian government train the new Iraqi Army and to send grain to Iraq, whose children have been starving under thirteen years of tough U.N. sanctions followed by two years of American occupation. I wonder if Bush is surprised that Jaafari will be talking to Iran’s new fundamentalist president about linking the two country’s electric grids and constructing a new oil pipeline to the Iranian port of Abadan.

Surely Bush can’t be surprised. He must know that Jaafari, along with much of Iraq’s current, elected political leadership took refuge in Iran for much of the 1980s – during a time that the United States, under President Ronald Reagan, supported Saddam. He must also know that at the same time Iran’s new president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was helping to organize his country’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, Ibrahim al-Jaafari was trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein and put a Shi’ite Islamic state in its place.

I think George Bush (or at least his advisers) are aware of these historical facts. This is why his Administration resisted calls to hold elections for almost two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Rather than organize a poll early on, the Administration hired a company out of North Carolina called Research Triangle Institute charged with appointing local governments throughout the country.

Now, though, the Iraqi government is going out on its own – proving that their interests are different from American ones.

"Iraqi citizens and officials should know by now that Iran is the best friend of the Iraqi people and wants to see a democratic Iraq that lives in peace with its neighbors," the Tehran Times editorializes this week. This despite an eight-year war that Saddam Hussein launched against Iran with American support.

In his trip to Tehran ahead of Jaafari’s, Iraq’s Sunni Defense Minister, Sadoun al-Dulaimi told reporters he had “come to ask forgiveness for what Saddam has done. The same has to be done with Kuwait and all Saddam Hussein’s victims.”

As to Iranian warnings from Washington of Iranian "meddling" in Iraqi affairs, Dulaimi told Agence France Presse. “Nobody can dictate to Iraq its relations with other countries.”

What’s next for the Bush Administration? Are Iraq and Iran a new axis of evil?

Read more by Aaron Glantz