Putting the best possible face on the Bush administration’s disastrous legacy in the Middle East, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Associated Press in a farewell interview “that Iran has chosen to scale back much of its most troubling interference in Iraq, and she credits the strength of U.S. pressure.”
“I don’t think it’s goodwill…They’re in a much more difficult situation in terms of Iraq,” Rice said. “[Iran] did everything they could to stop the strategic forces arrangement – they couldn’t do it.”
As I wrote last week, the idea that the SOFA represents a major defeat for Tehran is the pro-war right’s latest talking point. Leaving aside that the Bush administration’s new story about the relationship between Iraq and Iran has about as much basis in fact as their old story about the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, it says a lot about the administration’s significant readjustment of goals and expectations in Iraq that Rice is now trying to present Iran’s failure to exercise a veto in Iraq’s parliament as a success for the United States.
But, apparently, nobody sent Rice’s memo to Iraqi government spokesman Ali Dabbagh, who told the LA Times why he thought that “Iran had taken a more ‘positive stance’ in recent months.”
Dabbagh said a new security agreement between Baghdad and Washington has helped ease Iranian fears about American intentions.
“The Iranians have noticed finally that the American… presence in Iraq is not going to be a threat to them and that helps reduce the temperature,” he said.
This tracks with what CNN’s Michael Ware said in our interview last month, that “during these negotiations between Baghdad and Washington, Tehran — whether we like it or not — was in the room.”
Tehran, in some ways, in some fashion, is a party to this agreement. And you’ll see that some of the sticking points and some of the nuances within the negotiations were issues that were very close to the heart of Tehran….Iran is in a position where it didn’t get everything that it wanted, but then neither did Washington — and indeed neither did Baghdad — but Iran still will feel that it has something of a comfort zone as a result of this.