Can Iran "help" Iraq?

As violence explodes in Baghdad, Iraq's prime minister visits Tehran.

Published September 13, 2006 1:36PM (EDT)

Good news for the coalition of the willing: Another country has stepped forward to offer help with security in Iraq. Bad news for the coalition of the willing: It's Iran.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki traveled to Tehran Tuesday and asked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for help in stemming the violence that continues to rip through Iraq. Ahmadinejad said that Iran will do what it can to help because "Iraq's security is Iran's security." As the New York Times reports, "It was not clear what form Iranian support on security would take, or how it would be received by the American authorities here."

American officials have accused Iran of fueling some of the sectarian violence in Iraq. In return, Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly told Maliki in Tehran today that "Iraq's problems will be solved if the occupiers leave, so we hope that the occupiers pull out." Ahmadinejad referred to U.S. troops as "unwanted guests" in the region.

George W. Bush has made it clear -- again -- that those guests are going to stay at least as long as he's the president. Will the security situation improve in the meantime? Although the United States has shifted troops out of other regions in order to launch security operations in Baghdad, the news out of the capital today is grim. Police in and around Baghdad found the bodies of 65 men who had been tortured, shot and dumped, the Associated Press reports, and at least 30 more Iraqis and two Americans have been killed in a new wave of car bombings, mortar assaults and shootings.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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