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U.S. exit from Iraq “golden” victory: Iran

Tehran denounces move on “virtual” embassy

Tensions between Iran and the United States continued to flare on Sunday after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the exit of American forces from Iraq as a “golden” victory, and officials in Tehran denounced Washington's intention of opening a “virtual” embassy on the internet.

“The uniform stance of all tribes and religions in Iraq over America's pressure to get legal immunity for its occupying servicemen, and ultimately the coercion of America to exit Iraq, constitute a golden page in that country's history,” said the Supreme Leader after a meeting with Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani, the ISNA news agency reported.

U.S. President Barack Obama had earlier declared that all the 40,000 remaining American troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by the year-end, backtracking from an earlier position which would have left a residual number of U.S. troops. Analysts say the full departure of the American forces could deepen Iranian influence in Iraq.

But as it withdraws forces from Iraq, the U.S. may have plans to strengthen forces in six countries that belong to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which are in close proximity to Iran. The New York Times is reporting that the Obama administration has drawn up a new plan under which additional combat troops would be deployed in Kuwait “to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran”.

In order to offset the “the threat of a belligerent Iran,” Washington is also seeking to expand military ties with the six GCC nations — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman.

Iranians have also dismissed the announcement by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that a “virtual embassy” would be opened in the form of a website, which would provide Iranians information and a route to access visas. “If America wants to open a virtual embassy in Iran, the young officers of soft-war will occupy that as well,” Mohammad Reza Kashefi, a member of the Basij student militia, told the semi-official Fars news agency. Speaker of Iran's Parliament Ali Larijani derided Ms. Clinton's statement saying the Washington's top diplomat “confused diplomacy with a toy”.

On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi announced that Iran was willing to improve relations with all countries except Israel through “negotiations on an equal basis, on the same level, free of any preconditions”.

Iran's already strained relations with the U.S. nose-dived recently, when the U.S. Justice department blamed Tehran for masterminding a terror strike in a fashionable Washington restaurant, frequented the by the city's elite, to assassinate Saudi Arabia's Ambassador Adel Al Jubeir. Incensed by the allegation, Ayatollah Khamenei accused Washington of trying to divert attention from the Occupy Wall Street movement against corporate-greed, which had already found support in 80 countries.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 1:43:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-exit-from-iraq-golden-victory-iran/article2582989.ece

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