Over one million dead and numerous mutually inflicted tragedies later, it is high-time that Iran and Iraq put aside the bitterness of their pitiful shared history and sign a friendship pact that will promote future peace and prosperity for both nations.
This is the very same path that France and Germany took in 1963. In that year, General Charles de Gaulle, President of the French Republic, and Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany agreed to the process of reconciliation between their two nations in order to bring an end to an age-old rivalry and start a profound peaceful transformation in the relations of the two countries. A relationship that was marred by immeasurable suffering the two sides inflicted upon each other dating back to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and ending with the defeat and occupation of Germany in 1945.
Iran and Iraq must accomplish the same. The fall of Saddam, very much like fall of the Third Reich in Germany, has provided a unique historical opportunity for its neighbor, which should not be missed. The Baathist would have never accepted a close partnership and a meaningful peace with Iran, then again nor would the current or any future government of Iran ever-accepted Saddam and his ruffians as friends.
The fall of Saddam (God bless Paul Wolfowitz and AIPAC for this) has allowed the emergence of Kurdish and Shia segments of Iraqi society, which view Iran as a natural friend – or at least a counterweight to the Sunni domination – and therefore advocate a close relationship with her.
The window of opportunity for this friendship pact should not be closed despite the recent fall of Ahmed Chalabi, the assassinations of Ezzedine Salim, and the killing of Ayatollah Hakim (all strong advocates of close relations with Iran). The resurrection of the neo-Baathist and Sunni minority with tacit American approval should be viewed as an eventuality and a geopolitical fact not necessarily a return to days of animosity and open hostility between the two neighbors.
In short, the future of Iraq will be that of Lebanon, in which each ethnic group will dominate its own geographic sector but none will able to fully dominate the other or the whole of Iraq. Yesterday’s Christian Phalangists of Lebanon are today’s Iraqi Sunnis, traditionally powerful but today, humbled and defeated.
For the sake of future long term peace between Iran and Iraq, the Sunni minority should never be allowed to dominate again, but instead they should remain weak as the Phalangist are in Lebanon today. Nevertheless they should not be excluded in the future of Iraq either, nor should they be sidelined permanently from the political scene. That will only allow the growth of Wahhabi extremism within the Sunni population, which in turn will never accept a treaty of friendship nor a close partnership with Iran. Besides, the Wahhabi takeover of the Sunni nationalist mantra will only provide a new excuse for further American hegemony over Iraq, becoming another stumbling block to any rapprochement between Iran and Iraq.
Despite all these potential obstacles and an uncertain future, Iran and Iraq ought to realize after so much bloodshed that a close partnership in all political, economical, and cultural venues is the only way to secure a peaceful and thriving region in which future generations can build a solid and enduring union similar to what France and Germany have today.