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Tuesday, 12 September 2006 06:03

Iraq and Iran Leaders Meet in Tehran, and They Aren't Spreading Democracy

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Five years ago, the amicable meeting of the leaders of Iran and Iraq would have been unimaginable. After a bitter war in the 1980s, their national feud remained one of the strongest in the world. Before we meddled in their affairs, this conflict kept them both in check and prevented them both from growing too strong or problematic.

Today, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki and Iranian President Ahmadinejad met for the first time in Tehran where they talked privately and gave a press conference. There were also plenty of smiles and handshakes.

Is cozying up with the Axis of Evil part of Bush's roadmap for how the Iraq War was supposed to spread democracy, peace, and freedom to the Middle East? That is, of course, assuming he had a plan.

"The two sides share common stance on regional and international issues," Ahmadinejad said. "Both sides are determined to consolidate brotherly ties." Iran's state-run news agency reported: "Al-Maliki, for his part, said Iran was an important and friendly country for Iraq, adding the two sides face bright horizons for expansion of bilateral cooperation in the future."

This meeting was hardly the start of the dominos of democracy beginning to execute. Rather, it is indicative of a floundering Iraq beginning a path away from Western influence. In a classic example of the need to be careful what you wish for, the alliance could hardly have been what Bush had in mind three years ago.

While Saddam ruled as a secular Sunni, both states are now run by Shiites. One can only imagine what will be said behind closed doors when they discuss the religiously based violence in Iraq, although Ahmadinejad did claim he "will provide assistance to the Iraqi government to establish full security."

Yesterday's 9/11 anniversary was a stark reminder of the payback we got from the Afghan fighters we helped fight the Soviets in the 1980s. When will our leaders learn that self-serving intervention in the Middle East has backfired time and time again? Iran is, after all, a prime example.