Baghdad needs good ties with Tehran: Iraqi president

IRNA – Having good ties with Tehran is important to Baghdad, Iraqi President Barham Salih said adding that Turkey and Iran cannot be ignored in the regional order.

“We are a part of this region and we enjoy Islamic neighbors, like Iran and Turkey, and also boast the Arab depth that we spoke about,” the Iraqi president aid in an interview with London-based Asharq Al-Awsat broadcast on the sidelines of the Arab League Summit in Tunisia.

“Our vision stipulates that our interest lies in our relations. We need good ties with Iran. We share 1,400 kilometers with it. We also enjoy historic, social and cultural roots with it. The same goes to Turkey,” he added.

“It is in our favor to have good ties based on good neighborliness and joint interests,” Salih said.

In the interview released Tuesday, the Iraqi president rejected reports on any extraordinary influence of Iran in Iraq, saying that “During the age of social media, anyone can turn into an analyst and political expert.”

“I say that Iran is an important neighbor to us and it has helped us against oppression and ISIS. It is true that Iran has influence as does Iraq in Iran. The influence is mutual, but the decision-making power ultimately lies in Iraq and its constitutional institutions, meaning the government, parliament and judiciary,” he explained.

“No decision can be taken without taking into consideration the current reality. For example, can France take a purely French decision without taking into consideration Europe, the United States and others? We are a part of this region and our decisions must take into consideration the Arabs, Iran, Turkey and [Persian]Gulf,” Salih said.

“Iraq is part of this region and it is in our interest to enjoy good relations with Iran based on common interests,” he added.”

He also strongly rejected the idea that his country be used against neighbors.
“Iraq cannot be a platform to harm any of our neighbors. We absolutely cannot be a part of any plot to target any of our neighbors. It is not in our interest…. This is a conclusion reached after four decades. We are a part of the region. If we want to meet the demands of reconstruction, providing jobs for our youths and providing services, then we must be in complete peace with our neighbors,” he said.