‘Even one American in Iraq is too many’, Iran’s Khamenei says

Iran’s supreme leader meets Iraqi president, says recent security and economic agreements need to be fully implemented.

Iran April 2023 Images released by Khamenei's website
Iraq’s President Abdul Latif Rashid met Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wihle in Iran on a state visit [Photo courtesy of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's website]

Tehran, Iran – Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has told Iraq’s President Abdul Latif Rashid that the presence of “even one American in Iraq is too many”.

The two met in Tehran on Saturday in Rashid’s first visit to Iran as head of state since his election last October.

Rashid also held meetings with President Ebrahim Raisi and parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.

“The Americans are not friends of Iraq,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by his official website. “The Americans have friendships with no one and are not even loyal to their European friends.”

Alongside his emphasis on expelling the United States from the neighbouring country, the supreme leader also stressed that Iran considers Iraq’s progress to be of high importance to Iran and said bilateral security and economic agreements that were signed last month need to be fully implemented.

“There are strong enemies for expanding and deepening relations between Iran and Iraq, and if there were no solid historical and faith-based ties between the two countries, perhaps the condition of relations would return to the era of Saddam [Hussein],” he said of the late Iraqi president who invaded Iran shortly after its 1979 revolution.

Rashid was quoted as saying that his government will try to deepen ties with Iran and wants to resolve differences.

Earlier in the day, the Iraqi president was officially received by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, where the two held talks and then a joint news conference.

Rashid said that Iraq will not forget Iran’s support during tough times in the past few decades, and said the two countries also need to pay attention to the issues of water rights and fighting drug smuggling across the region.

The Iraqi president also welcomed the agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic ties, saying it will “strengthen stability and security” in the region.

For his part, Raisi said the neighbours will continue to work together on the transport of energy, and “economic relations between Iran and Iraq will continue [to grow] until the needs of both sides are fully met”.

In late November, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani became the first senior official from the current administration to visit Tehran, He also met Khemenei and Raisi.

At the time, the supreme leader had grilled him on security issues, particularly on Baghdad’s plans to guarantee its borders would not be used by those in Kurdish-majority areas to undermine security on Iranian soil.

Last year, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) used missiles, drones and artillery numerous times to conduct raids on positions in northern Iraq held by Kurdish groups that Tehran considers to be “terrorist” groups.

Most of the raids came after protests erupted across Iran in September following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman.

Iranian authorities said at the time that separatist Kurdish groups – allegedly supported by Western powers – smuggled weapons from Iraq and carried out operations in Iran.

Source: Al Jazeera