Baghdad (AsiaNews) – For the first time in 30 years, Iran and the United States, i.e. the ‘Rogue state’ and the ‘Great Satan’, have met to discuss ways to contain the Iraqi crisis as both sides accuse each of undermining peace and security in the region. US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker met Iranian Ambassador Hassan Kazemi for talks in a location in Baghdad kept secret for security reasons. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki chaired the meeting.
Except for their symbolic value, the talks did not produce any immediate results. In a press conference held right after the meeting, Ambassador Crocker described them as “positive” and “businesslike,” but insisted that what was needed next was “Iranian action on the ground”.
Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki's office said yesterday that the Iraqi leader “encouraged both sides to open a dialogue and solve their problems in Iraq,” and that this dialogue should “be carried out in the framework of a plan to rid the country of all external interference, regardless of what has happened up until now.”
The US has accused Iran of fomenting instability in Iraq by supporting Shia militia and providing them with weapons and training. It has pointed its finger at Iran’s revolutionary guards (pasdaran) accusing them of supplying Iraqi rebels with sophisticated bombs that have killed scores of US soldiers.
Tehran has responded accusing Washington of causing the chaos in Iraq through its occupation and planning to destabilise Iran itself. To prove its points the Iranian government announced that it had uncovered several spy networks run by the US and its allies inside Iran.
Iranian authorities summoned the Swiss ambassador (who handles US interests in Iran since the two countries broke off diplomatic relations) to demand an explanation for the networks, which Iranian media said were seeking to commit “infiltration and sabotage” by using “spies were guided by American intelligence services”.
Tensions in US-Iranian rose a notch recently when US soldiers arrested five revolutionary guards in Iraqi Kurdistan on suspicion of supporting the local insurgency. Tehran reacted by detaining three Iranian-American scholars and accusing them of conspiracy against the Islamic Republic.
These are the latest in a series of issues fuelling US-Iranian confrontation which, in addition to Iranian support for Iraqi militias, include accusations that Tehran is developing a military nuclear programme.
US-Iranian relations deteriorated following the Iranian revolution in 1979 led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Formal diplomatic relations were broken off after the hostage taking incident at the US Embassy in Tehran in which 63 Americans were held prisoners for more than a year.
Relations worsened still as a result of US support for Iraq in its war against Iran, Iranian support for Hezbollah-orchestrated terrorism in Lebanon and US (Great Satan) support for the Little Satan, i.e. Israel.
For many analysts the US is unofficially backed by many Arab regimes who are afraid to see Tehran take the lead of the Islamic world.
For its part, the clerical regime ruling Iran and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hope to use the confrontation with the US to maintain their hold on power despite an increasingly critical population fed up with leadership which it holds responsible for the country’s rising corruption and deepening economic crisis.