One day after a top U.S. diplomat questioned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s motives for visiting Iraq, Tehran has called his remarks “Interventional and unprofessional”.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Bahran Ghasemi on Tuesday said that relations between Iran and Iraq are based on good neighborliness and are strategic ties and the two countries “do not ask anyone’s permission to preserve these relations”.
Ghasemi added that “The anger of this American official is no surprise, since it seems that this country after spending billions of dollars in the Middle East has been unable to achieve a desired status among the nations in the region”, Iran state broadcaster reported.
In an interview on March 11, Hook said, Iran wants to secure a “military highway” through Iraq to the Western parts of the Middle East “that the Revolutionary Guard Corps can use to ferry missiles, weapons and fighters across the Middle East”, adding that “President Rouhani coming to Iraq is not in the interest of the Iraqi people”.
Under pressure from U.S. sanctions, Rouhani’s trip to Iraq aims to secure more trade. Iran’s economy is in the grip of severe crisis. The IMF has projected a more than five percent contraction in Iran’s economy.
But the U.S. and Israel are concerned that after saving the regime of Syria’s Bashar Assad, Iran wants to secure a land corridor through Iraq to the Mediterranean to spread its influence and be able to arm its ally Hezbollah.