Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s first official trip to Iraq signals the beginning of a new chapter in Iran-Iraq relations, one that rising tensions between Tehran and Washington could complicate.
This week, Hassan Rouhani made his first trip to Iraq in his capacity as Iran’s president. During the three-day visit, Iran and Iraq signed several preliminary trade deals, including those on energy, railway projects, health, and investor visas intended to boost their trade from $12bn to $20bn. The two nations, which share a porous 1,500km border, have come a long way since their eight-year war in the 1980s. In the past decade, Iran and Iraq have developed their political, economic, social, and security ties. Rouhani’s visit to Iraq aims to further strengthen these relations.
Since the Islamic State group (ISIS) took over large swathes of Iraq in 2014, Tehran and Baghdad have been locked in a necessary fight against this common enemy. Now, following the military phase of the campaign against ISIS in Iraq, and the recent Iraqi election, the sides are opening the next chapter in their relationship. However, this will not be an easy task, given that Iraq is caught in rising tension between Tehran and Washington.
Below, two ECFR policy fellows consider the significance of Rouhani’s visit to Iraq.
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