Al Monitor – Iran’s Hassan Rouhani is on a hectic trip to neighboring Iraq, his first official visit to the country since he became president in 2013. A diverse political and economic agenda with implications for Iran, Iraq and the wider region at a critical time has made the state visit highly significant.
At home, Rouhani’s trip served as a point of convergence for rival political factions, which rarely see eye to eye on foreign policy. “Deal in Mesopotamia,” wrote moderate daily Iran, using the ancient name to underline the historical affinity Iran holds with Iraq. “The visit occurs at a time when Iraq has become the focal point of a diplomatic frenzy by the United States, which is planning to make use of Iraq as a platform for extending the ambit of pressure on Iran,” the paper stated.
In early February, US President Donald Trump drew the ire of Iranians when he explained that he wants to maintain a limited American military presence in Iraq to “watch Iran.” But a unified stance from Iraqi politicians in vehement rejection of such plans comforted furious Iranians.
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