Iranian Reactions to U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq
President Barack Obama announced on October 21, 2011 that U.S. forces would withdraw completely from Iraq by the end of 2011. The following are reactions to this announcement by officials in the Islamic Republic and its affiliates.
LAST UPDATE: 11:30 AM EST on 15 DEC
highlights in bold represent recent updates
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
November 5, 2011: In a message to hajj pilgrims, the Supreme Leader said, “During the last decades, arrogant powers, led by the United States, had reduced regional states to a state of subjugation through their political and security ploys. They thought they had opened an obstacle-free highway for their rising economic, cultural and political domination over this sensitive part of the world. But now, they are the primary target of disgust and hatred of the region's nations. Today, the West, the United States and Zionism are weaker than ever before. Economic troubles, successive failures in Afghanistan and Iraq, deep-running public outrage in America and other Western countries, with its daily widening scope, the struggles and sacrifices of the people of Palestine and Lebanon, the daring popular uprisings in Yemen, Bahrain and some other countries under the influence of the USA - all these are a good omen for the Islamic Ummah, especially for revolutionary nations.” (Office of the Supreme Leader)
October 30, 2011: In a meeting with President of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani, the Supreme Leader said, “The united resistance of all peoples and religions of Iraq against the US pressures and their opposition to (granting) judicial immunity of the occupying army which eventually forced the US to leave Iraq is a golden page in the history of this country.” “In spite of the military and political presence of America in Iraq, all Iraqi people - including Kurds and Arabs, Shia and Sunni - said ‘no’ to America and this is a very important point.” “The current stability of Iraq is a source of delight for the Islamic Republic of Iran and all religious and ethnic groups of Iraq should join hands and make efforts to build a new Iraq.” (Fars News Agency [affiliated with Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)]
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
November 3, 2011: “So long as the American empire based in the White House has not been overthrown, we have work to do. This is a path with many twists and turns. It needs shrewdness.” (Dolat-e ma via Tehran Bureau)
October 23, 2011
[Excerpt from CNN interview with Ahmadinejad]:
[Fareed Zakaria] President Obama has said that all American troops will be out of Iraq by the end of the year. In light of this announcement, will your government increase its efforts to train the Iraqi army, since there will be a need in Iraq for training and support. Will the Iranian government be providing greater support in that area?
[Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] I think this is going to be a very good idea and it should have been done sooner, maybe seven or eight years ago, and they would avoid killing so many Iraqi people or Americans as well. I think they should have done it much earlier.
But the people in the Iraqi government did not accept the increased presence of the Americans. The Iraqi government is independent and sovereign. They should decide how to provide trainings for the military personnel. We should wait for the decision of the Iraqi government.
[FZ] But do you expect that Iran's engagement and involvement with the Iranian government will now increase as a result of the American withdrawal?
[MA] I don't think there is going to be any change. We have a special relationship with Iraq. There's a historical relationship between the two governments. We have a very friendly and amicable relationship with the Iraqi people.
Although there was a war between the two nations under Saddam Hussein, but that was not able to disturb this relationship. (CNN)
Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi
November 2, 2011: “Proposing to strengthen [the] American military presence in the Persian Gulf [by Washington] is out of desperation and [is being proposed] only to compensate for the defeat resulting from its pullout from Iraq.” (Press TV)
October 30, 2011: Referring to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s remarks that Iran should refrain from meddling in Iraq following the American troop withdrawal, Vahidi said the “occupiers of Iraq” have been forced to leave the country and that their “meddlesome remarks stem from their deep fear of seeing the two nations (Iraq and Iran) united.” (Press TV [English-language, state media agency])
Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Hassan Firouzabadi
October 26, 2011
“The American soldiers had no other choice than to leave Iraq, and this is the beginning of all American forces withdrawing from the region and the people’s intolerance of these ambassadors of death, colonialism, and plundering.”
“Even if the Americans retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan, their problems will not be pushed aside, and the American people will force their government to retreat from the region completely and permanently.” (Javan Online [affiliated with IRGC Political Bureau])
IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali “Aziz” Jafari
November 27, 2011: “America abandoned Iraq without any achievement.”
“In Iraq only the Quds Force was involved… The Americans have implemented every measure but, in the end, they failed. These are great successes that were achieved despite all of the pressures.” (ISNA)
IRGC Deputy Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami
November 1, 2011: “There is no [longer] any secure place for the U.S. and its puppets and allies…They do not dare to be present in the Islamic territories and they are forced to travel secretly.” (Mehr News [state media agency, owned by the Islamic Propagation Office])
IRGC Ground Forces Commander General Mohammad Pakpour
November 13, 2011: Pakpour said during a meeting in Tehran with Iraq's military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Babaker Zebari: "We hope that the existing commonalities pave the ground for cooperation, coordination and expansion of all-out relations [between Iran and Iraq]..." (Fars News Agency [affiliated with the IRGC])
Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Suleimani
November 24, 2011: “[The American] presence in the region has resulted in three important occurrences, and the most important of these is that the dignity, the domination, and the fear of America and the Zionists – dogs that for fifty years imposed fear with ferocity and attacks on the region and the Islamic world – has been broken…. The result of all these mistaken costs of yours is a protest in which 99 percent of the country is against one percent. How is it possible that you can implement these threats?” (Fars News Agency)
Basij Commander Mohammad-Reza Naqdi
November 4, 2011: “Today, the US has no option but to leave the Persian Gulf region and merely pulling out of Iraq will not be sufficient.” [Press TV quote] He went on to add that if the US refuses to listen to Iran's advice, regional nations will eventually force them out of the Middle East. (Press TV)
Statement from Iran’s IRGC Basij Forces
October 26, 2011
[Quoting Fars News Agency’s press release]: “Iran’s Basij forces…welcomed the US announcement on its pullout from Iraq, saying that the US has no way out but to retreat from the region as the Middle-East has become an exhibition of its failures.”
[Statement text] ‘The great Islamic Middle-East has been shaped and this sensitive and strategic region has turned into an exhibition of the US and its allies' failures and defeats.’
“Basij forces in their statement described the formation of the great Islamic Middle-East as a good opportunity for the Muslim leaders and politicians to distance themselves from bankrupt powers and clean the stain of dependence on the world arrogance [the United States] from their face.” (Fars News Agency [affiliated with the IRGC])
Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani
October 24, 2011
“The Americans must not believe that they can deceive the people of Iraq…. Some have warned that the American pull-out will perhaps create security problems, but the problem with this is that the occupation and terrorism help one another. When the occupation came into being, terrorism was attracted [to the region].”
“If the Americans leave Iraq, the problem of terrorism will be solved, and the people of Iraq can assault terrorism with one fist.” (Javan Online [affiliated with IRGC Political Bureau])
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi
October 31, 2011
Salehi told reporters in Baghdad following a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari: “Iraq does not need anyone to meddle in its internal affairs. Iraqis know better than anyone else how to run their country.”
Asked about reports of U.S. plans to station more troops in the Middle East, Salehi said, “The Americans always have a deficit, unfortunately, in rationality and prudence.”
“So what I expect is that it is about time for the Americans to be more provident, to be more prudent and wise in their approach, because the region is really going into troubles, and ... the consequences of these developments are not yet known to anybody. So one has to be cautious. Everybody has to be cautious, including the U.S.” (Associated Press)
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast
October 24, 2011
[Quoting Fars News Agency report]: “Speaking to Iran's state-run TV, Mehmanparast said the US decided to pull out its troops from Iraq due to the resistance and opposition of the country's people, government and religious authorities, otherwise it would never retreat from Iraq and the region.
“If the US could deploy its troops in several parts of the world, it would not withdraw from Iraq…. But now it has no more room to continue its presence neither in Iraq, nor in the entire region due to the growing spread of Islamic awakening among nations.” (Fars News Agency [affiliated with the IRGC])
Interim Friday Prayer Leader of Tehran Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami
November 4, 2011: In his sermon, Khatami stated, “The US administration has never seen such days of humiliation…. [The] Ouster of dictators, the popular Occupy Wall Street movement, the US withdrawal from Iraq and Palestine's membership in UNESCO are among the other indications of [America’s] demise.” (Fars News Agency [affiliated with the IRGC])
Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah
October 25, 2011
[Quoting Press TV Report]: “Hassan Nasrallah has described the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq as a historic defeat for the US and a true victory for Iraqis.”
“In a televised interview, Nasrallah said on Monday that Iraqis owe this remarkable achievement to the resistance groups, adding that US troops would have stayed in the country if they had felt secure.”
“He also compared US pullout from Iraq to the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon.” (Press TV [English-language, state media agency])
Statement signed by 240 of 290 Iranian representatives of parliament
October 25, 2011: “The graph of the power of the U.S. shows a descending trend, and, with the failure of the policies of this superpower in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East, despite hundreds of billion dollars being spent, crisis has engulfed the U.S. society, and today we are witnessing the Wall Street movement, which is the loud voice of the protest of the people of the United States against the unjust governing system of the country.” (Tehran Times [English-language, state media agency])
Muqtada al Sadr, radical Shi’a cleric and leader of Jaysh al Mahdi (JAM)
November 3, 2011
[Interview with Dubai-based, Saudi private capital-funded pan-Arab news channel al Arabiya TV]
[Sadr] We do not accept any US presence in Iraq, whether military or other types.
[Kazim] What do you mean by any presence? Do you mean embassies or consulates, since the Americans had recently considered opening a consulate in Kirkuk?
[Sadr] No, we definitely reject it, particularly their remaining in the country. I previously stipulated that embassies should open after the US forces' complete departure from Iraqi territories. I stipulated that following the departure of these forces, the American side should then approach the Iraqi side to request opening an American embassy in Iraq equal in size to an Iraqi embassy in the United States. That is, not accrediting 15 Iraqis there in return for 1,500 or 15,000 Americans here, God knows how many. There should be balance or a balanced relationship between the Iraqi and US Governments after the withdrawal. As for a US military or non-military presence, such as security companies and the like, these forces are considered occupiers, which we will resist, regardless of the price.
[Kazim] How do you view the American's desire to remain in Iraq in civilian, not military form?
[Sadr] We reject this presence even in civilian form.
[Kazim] Why do you think that they want to maintain a civilian presence in Iraq, and what are their objectives?
[Sadr] America came to Iraq not to protect or rescue it, but to transform it into a US military and civilian base in order to complete its project of globalizing the world under its control and disposal. Since Iraq is the source of Islam, Arabism, and civilization, its occupation is actually the occupation of its surrounds and the domination over the Middle East and the entire region.
[Kazim] But, they might say that this is not occupation as the occupation had ended and their forces had left Iraq. They also might say that they want to establish economic relations and exchange expertise and embassies like all other countries, so why are you strict about this issue?
[Sadr] Using your same phrase, if the forces actually leave, we will not take strict stands and we will deal with it [United States] as any other country that does not occupy others.
[Kazim] Are you doubtful about the US forces' departure by the end of this year?
[Sadr] Yes, I am doubtful about their departure at the end of this year. This is because the withdrawal will be incomplete. Yes, it might draw down the number. Let me put this way, there are not less than 5,000 people in the US Embassy, several thousand as security companies' staff members, 6,000 trainers, and others. This means that some 25,000 soldiers will remain in Iraq out of 40,000; that is, only less than half the number of forces will depart. It is actually semi-withdrawal, not full withdrawal.
[Kazim] What will you do? Are you going to resist this presence?
[Sadr] Yes, we will resist this presence.
[Kazim] By military means?
[Sadr] Yes, militarily.
Media Report by al Ahd TV
October 31, 2011: [Announcer-read report over video]: “The Islamic resistance [group] has inflicted painful blows on the occupation bases and equipment in order to make the occupation subject to the Iraqi people's will, force it to withdraw from the land of the holy sites, and admit complete defeat. The Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq [Iranian proxy militia] claimed responsibility for damaging a US occupation tanker in Shu'lat al-Sadrayn area, northeastern Baghdad, and launching four Grad rockets at Al-Dujayl Base, affiliated with the occupation forces.” (Al Ahd TV [supportive of Sadr Trend, Iranian proxy in Iraq, satellite channel based in Baghdad])