Two nations who have always been friends

The Iranian and Iraqi people have always been close friends. However, the global powers have never found this friendly bond to be to their benefit and have repeatedly tried to disrupt it. One famous example of such attempts is the eight-year Imposed  War on Iran. The following Op-Ed tries to shed light on both the scope and depth of Iranian-Iraqi relations.  

Maulana Muhammad Hafizi Hozour, the intellectual leader of the Bangladeshi Muslims, was one of the Muslim scholars who came to Iran on September 7, 1982 during the Imposed War on Iran. He made an interesting proposal during a meeting with the then President, Ayatollah Khamenei. He expressed regret over the war between the two Muslim countries and satisfaction with the victory of the Islamic combatants. He didn’t know much about Saddam and optimistically said, "The only solution to this conflict is to establish an Islamic state in Iraq. In my visit to Iraq, I will suggest this to Saddam.” Maulana Hafizi then made a request to Ayatollah Khamenei saying, "If Iraq accepts our firm and explicit proposal and an Islamic system is established in that country, will Iran also accept a ceasefire?"

While welcoming the proposal of Maulana Muhammad Hafizi, the Supreme Leader of the Revolution made a strategic statement, which was actually realized after the fall of Saddam Hussein. He said, "If Iraq becomes Islamic, we will not only agree to a ceasefire, but also if necessary, we will make all our resources available to Iraq. If Iraq becomes Islamic, our oil, money and facilities will also be available to Iraq. If Iraq becomes Islamic, we will not be at war with them to need to accept a ceasefire."

This strategic message, a sign of the honesty and foresight of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution, indicated that for the friendship of the people of Iran and Iraq, language, ethnicity and nationality are not a barrier and Islam is the ring that links the two nations.

The imposition of a war on the people of Iran and Iraq in 1980 was one of Saddam Hussein’s foulest actions. Neither the people of Iran nor the people of Iraq had a desire to fight each other. The Ba'ath party, incited by the great powers in the West and the East as well as the Arab reactionary countries, occupied parts of Iranian territory. By imposing this war on Iran, they inflicted heavy losses on the human capital and rich resources of both countries. Indeed, Saddam Hussein caused division in the Islamic world precisely at the time when Muslim nations were preparing to stand up as a united nation against the Zionist regime and liberate the first Qiblah of the Muslims.

In this connection, the Late Imam Khomeini (r) said, "When the Muslims needed to be unified more than ever, Anwar Sadat - the traitorous American servant, friend and brother of Menachem Begin and of the deposed Shah - and Saddam, that loyal servant of the United States, have created division between the Muslims."

At the beginning of the Imposed War, Saddam ordered the expulsion of many Iranians Iraqis. The Ba'athist regime confiscated their property and left them empty-handed and on foot at Iranian borders. In contrast, in a message addressed to the Iranian people, the late Ayatollah Khomeini (r) said, "Those who were displaced from their homes and sent to Iran in a deplorable manner due to the conspiracy of the United States and at the criminal hands of the deviant Ba'athist regime, are our dear guests.”

In this connection, in a meeting with the Basiji forces from the province of Hamedan on July 6, 2004, Ayatollah Khamenei said, "We have always been two brotherly nations and have had close, friendly relations. Over the years, our people have gone to Najaf and Karbala on pilgrimage and they have come [here to Iran] to Mashhad and Qom for making a pilgrimage. We are close and kind to each other. There are not many neighboring countries and nations around the world that are like Iran and Iraq that are so friendly with each other.  Saddam Hussein must be brought to justice for this heinous, unforgivable sin."

During the Imposed War, having realized the oppressive nature of Saddam’s invasion, many Iraqis fought against Saddam shoulder to shoulder with the Iranians and set up the Badr Corps, which are still active. The initial nucleus of this unit was formed in 1983 in the east of Basra. There, a number of Iraqi Muslim fighters formed a battalion by the name of “Martyr Sadr” and they began their work in defending the Zayd checkpoint.

The Ba'athist regime in Iraq continued its chain of mistakes and invaded Kuwait on the 2nd of August, 1990 and occupied territory in that country. The Islamic Republic of Iran rushed to aid the Iraqi people when they were exposed to US sanctions and an economic blockade because of this incident. A former Ba'athist Iraqi minister has recently said that Iran played a positive role in being able to export and sell Iraqi oil during the 13-year period of economic sanctions. This allowed Baghdad to sell its oil through some Iranian ports along the Persian Gulf. At that point, the Islamic Republic of Iran preferred to stand by the Iraqi people rather than the ruling regime in Iraq.

After the fall of Saddam, Iran has had good cooperation with all of the interim and elected governments of Iraq. Today, the results of those relations are reflected in the level of trade and economic cooperation as well as cooperation in tourism, medical treatment and religious pilgrimages between the two countries.

But the support of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Iraq during the three-year war with ISIS under the joint command of Martyr Qassem Soleimani and Commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis is one of the historic milestones in deepening friendship and brotherhood between the two countries. And it demonstrates that the security of the two countries is intertwined.

During the fight against ISIS, which was supported by the United States and the US client states in the region, the Iraqi people and government were able to differentiate between their friends and foes in the region and the world. This prevented Iraq from becoming a part of the US unilateral sanctions against Iran.

The cowardly assassination of Commander Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis by American terrorists strengthened relations between the nations of Iran and Iraq and led to the establishment of strategic relations between the two countries.

Last year, when a group of Iraqi Mukeb owners (privately run accommodations providing free food and a place to rest to Imam Hussain’s pilgrims) met with the Supreme Leader of the Revolution, one of them said, "Grand Ayatollah Khamenei shares with us in the reward of welcoming Imam Hussain’s pilgrims, because Iranians and Iraqis together are one hand." The group praised the great Iraqi Shi’a jurisprudent, recalling the guidance of Ayatollah Sistani. The Supreme Leader also praised Ayatollah Sistani for issuing a well-timed decree to fight ISIS. According to him, the struggle has provided security under the shadow of which the Arbaeen Walk is growing, developing and becoming global. Another member of the group addressed the Iranian nation and said, "O people of Iran! We love you as much as Ya'qub loved Yusuf.” The Leader of the Revolution reciprocated by saying, "Your generous treatment of Imam Hussain’s (pbuh) pilgrims is unparalleled. Through your behavior, you have shown the dignity of Islam and Arabs."

Today, the dream of Maulana Hafiz, a kind-hearted Bangladeshi cleric, has been fulfilled and Islamic Iraq is a close friend of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Imam Khamenei mentioned in a recent meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi, relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq are more than ordinary relations between two neighboring countries. The Iranian government and people consider the progress and prosperity of Iraq to be in their interest.

At one time, Saddam Hussein, who had no understanding of Imam Hussain's ideology whatsoever, sought to plant seeds of division and animosity between the two nations by imposing a war on Iran and Iraq. Now, Imam Hussain (pbuh) has reunited the people of Iraq and Iran. Today, the Arabic motto "Hub Al-Hussain Yajma’na (Hussain’s love unites us)" has turned into a popular motto among all Muslims in the world, especially the people of Iran and Iraq. It guarantees the strategic relations between the two countries. This friendship will continue.


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  • Arbaeen
  • Imam Hussain
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Islam
  • Mustafa Al-Kadhimi