Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Ahmadinejad will visit Baghdad. The date has yet to be set, but Iraq’s foreign minister maintains that it will take place in March. Decades have passed since an Iranian President last visited the neighbouring State, but above and beyond statistics the event could reveal itself to be of prime importance for the future of Iraq, given Iran’s influence on the Shiite majority, and therefore on this group’s role in the nations’ peace process.
Tehran’s official news agency, IRNA, headlined today with the “importance” of this event. Iraqi political leaders have also largely come out in favour of the visit, with a few exceptions. While it may be a given that the spokesperson for the Shiite Moqtada Al Sadr, Talal Al Saeedi, reads this “important visit” in the light of “putting an end to the American occupation”, the Sunni party of vice president Tariq Al Hashimi has described it as “a political message to Iraqis, Americans and the entire region” in which Iran “is the second major power after Israel”.
In fact, fears that Ahmadinejad may exploit his presence in Iraq to send a fresh warning to the United States have been expressed by the “moderate” followers of former premier Iyad Allawi. But there are also those who are not willing to rule out the possibility that Ahmadinejad may take advantage of the trip, and use it as a message of positive steps towards the USA. What is sure, is that he will have to place some trust in the US military forces, to a greater or lesser degree, given that they will have a key role in guaranteeing his safety during the visit.