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Defense minister: Iran ready for strategic partnership with Iraq

Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami has voiced Iran’s willingness to forge a strategic partnership with neighboring Iraq and turn bilateral ties into a “successful model for cooperation.”

Hatami made the comments on Sunday during a video call with his Iraqi counterpart, Lieutenant General Juma Anad Saadoun Khattab, who was recently appointed to the post by new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Hatamai underlined the need for defense cooperation between Baghdad and Tehran to restore security and stability in the region.

“We are willing to offer all our potential to Iraq and become strategic partners and turn our bonds into a successful model of cooperation,” he said.

Iran has maintained close ties with Iraq since the ouster of former dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

In 2014, when Daesh unleashed its campaign of terror in Iraq, Iranian military advisers rushed to the aid of Iraqi armed forces on Baghdad’s request, helping them reverse Daesh’s gains and ultimately liberate their entire homeland from the Takfiri terrorist group some three years later.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Hatami congratulated the Iraqi defense minister on his appointment and wished him success in his career.

He also expressed his satisfaction with the formation of the new Iraqi administration, saying, “A united, independent and powerful Iraq, with the participation of all ethnic and religious groups, is our principled policy.”

“Therefore, we hope that the Iraqi government will be successful in fulfilling its inherent responsibilities and duties, especially in materializing national demands, improving economic conditions and fighting the coronavirus disease.”

Hatami also touched on the common history, culture and religion of the two neighbors, and extended an invitation to his Iraqi counterpart for an official visit to the Islamic Republic.

Iraq swore in al-Kadhimi as the new prime minister earlier this month after months of political deadlock that had hampered the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic and stepped-up Daesh operations.

The United States is strongly opposed to close relations between Iran and Iraq, pressuring Baghdad to keep Tehran at an arm’s length. 

However, Washington’s efforts have been trumped by the extent and depth of the relationship between Tehran and Baghdad.

Iraq’s former electricity minister said this week that Iran will remain a key source of energy for the Arab country for years to come despite the US opposition.

“The only available option we have at the moment right now is Iran—and let’s be frank,” Luay al-Khatteeb said in an interview. 

The US has been enlisting its companies and allies such as Saudi Arabia to replace Iran as Iraq’s source of energy. 

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