The signing of new cooperation documents during Rouhani’s Iraq trip represents only part of the comprehensive and growing relations between Iran and Iraq and only part of the strategic relationship between the two neighboring countries. In the meantime, the determination of Tehran and Baghdad to utilize the great mutual capacities and capabilities is mutually beneficial to achieve common goals as well as meet a large part of the bilateral needs.
Iran and Iraq, as two large and oil rich countries in the region, have numerous grounds for strategic cooperation. In addition to a wide range of historical, geographical and cultural commonalities as an appropriate framework for promotion of relations, the existence of democratic political structures dependent on the people’s vote in the two countries also pave the way for bilateral cooperation in the economic, commercial, political, and cultural spheres, and provide a very favorable environment for moving towards the creation of a common regional market and launching related institutions and organizations.
In this regard, the signing of some treaties on elimination of customs tariffs, offering free visas and, more importantly, rail link between the two countries showcases realization of common strategic goals in increasing various types of economic, commercial and more intensive forms of cultural cooperation. However, strategic cooperation in the field of energy and its types is just one of the many items in the cooperation list of the two countries. Participation in development and agriculture projects and enjoying the mutual capacities of the two countries private sectors to boost the economic development and link it to other regional economies are considered among other grounds for mid- and long-term goals.
Hence, the involvement of the two countries in the phase of strategic cooperation parts of which were realized during Rouhani’s trip is not only possible, but also crucial for the two countries and provides many of the objectives of foreign and regional policies of Iran and Iraq. The treaties and documents signed during President Rouhani’s Baghdad visit equal a lasting foundation stone that will, in the medium and long terms, bring its fruits to the two nations and will not be limited to meeting current and short-term mutual needs.
This is a trend with no major obstacles in its way as over the past two decades, the existence of strong potentials for convergence and cooperation between Iran and Iraq has eliminated many of the hurdles that exist on the path to closer bilateral relations. At the same time, it has recognized mutual political, cultural and economic capabilities to meet the needs and practical partnerships in these fields, because Iraq as one of the richest countries in the region (third in terms of oil reserves) owns the necessary foreign exchange revenues to meet the costs of modernizing and rebuilding its crippled economic infrastructure (in various internal and external wars).
Meantime, Iran has reached a stage of production and technological and engineering knowhow that can meet most of the needs of Iraq under the current situation that Baghdad needs reconstruction, particularly because the trade and economic exchanges between Iran and Iraq, due to being neighbors, do not require heavy transportation costs and related insurance fees.
In the political arenas too, the strategic relations between the two countries are not limited to the exchange and transfer of experiences in accomplishing of religious democracy in the region. It rather covers most of the decision-making processes and adoption of political positions, especially in relation to the fate of the region and the formation of political equations, regional groupings and matching up.
This is something that today is one of the most important requirements of regional stability and security, and it can realize reassuring deterrence against all kinds of interventionist militancy and domination seeking policies. This is while Iran and Iraq have overcome the various religious, ethnic and linguistic divisive plots and the related 200 years of colonial policies. Today the two countries seek a strategic alliance in the context of relations with each other; something that can be said is one of the achievements of Rouhani’s Iraq visit. It also illustrates the stabilization of the regional equations in favor of the countries of the Axis of Resistance and to the detriment of the trans-regional powers and their regional allies.