From the USA Today
NEW YORK — Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami said Monday that U.S. forces should remain in Iraq until that country's fragile government can assume greater control.
In an interview here during his first trip to the United States since leaving office a year ago, Khatami said, "We can't leave this newly formed government at the mercy of terrorists and insurgents."
I am speechless.
Despite the change in the leadership, Khatami said that Iran is not the enemy of the United States and that the two countries share strategic interests in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Khatami said Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, didn't provide weapons to Iraqi Shiites while he was in power. He said he doubts that the current leadership is doing so, as has been charged by U.S. officials including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "No one will benefit as much as Iran from peace and stability in Iraq," he said.
Oh, how I wish I could believe him. But the skeptic in me says that this is just a PR campaign.
It's hard for me to understand just how a stable and democratic Iraq can benefit the Iranians. Iranians are already restless, their economy is in shambles, and one would think that the intrigue of a democratic Iraq and Afghanistan, would be too much to bear, for much longer. One would also think that it is just a matter of time before the people would show some signs of envy and want to experience free and fair elections, themselves.
But honestly, as long as the Ayatollah Khameini is still the supreme leader and tolerates the current Iranian president's antics, it's doubtful there will be much of an opportunity for this to happen. That is, unless there is a dramatic shift in policy from the Iranian government. Otherwise, this is just a ruse to make us feel more comfortable, before the dagger goes in.
I might add that Khatami's remarks are certainly going against the supreme theocrat, Ayatollah Khameini's call for the U.S. to withdraw, back in March. What we seem to have here is failure, to communicate. Either that or Khatami is freelancing it. Maybe he had better apply for a visa to stay here, as there may be a fatwa issued on him, for when he gets back.