Iran and Iraq have agreed to "form a joint commission to oversee border issues" between the two countries. The Iran/Iraq border is some 700 miles long, and the US has repeatedly accussed Iran of funnelling 'foreign fighters' into Iraq across this extremely vulnerable territory.
Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, during a visit to Iraq, the primary task of the joint commission would be to block "saboteurs", widely viewed as a veiled description of spies, secret agents and special forces operatives from Israel and the US.
Naturally, Israel and the US deny they are infiltrating Iran via Iraq, and in turn claim that Iranians Shiite fighters are flooding into Iraq and smuggling weapons.
"We plan to form a joint commission between Iran and Iraq to control our borders and block the way to saboteurs whose aim is to destabilize the security of the two countries," he said in Najaf after talks with Iraq's most powerful Shiite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Mr. Mottaki, whose visit was only the second by an official Iranian government delegation since the downfall of Saddam Hussein, said improved border controls would be part of a wide effort to build close ties between the countries, including $1 billion in Iranian economic assistance to Shiite and Kurdish areas of Iraq.
American military commanders and diplomats have been focusing on what they say is strong evidence that a covert flow of weapons and money from Iran to Shiite militia groups in Iraq has fueled sectarian violence here. The Americans have urged the new Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to tighten security on the weakly patrolled Iran-Iraq border.
The issue is fraught with political complexity in Iraq, where the Maliki government includes Shiite leaders with links to at least two militias. The militias have been accused of participating in a brutal cycle of sectarian violence that has killed hundreds of people in recent months, in revenge for the relentless attacks on Shiites by Sunni insurgent groups.The US is pressuring the new Iraqi government to contain movements across the border, claiming that Shiite fighters are joining some of the fractured anti-Sunni insurgency groups, and bringing in weapons from Iran, including new generation IEDs.
Iran denies this, as does the new Iraqi PM, though not as directly as Iran.
The US is now watching on in disbelief as a fundamentalist Islamic government takes control of greater Iraq, and increases ties with Iran, dominated by Shiite tribes and factions.
The Sunni-dominated insurgency, meanwhile, appears to be fighting both the Shiites and the US, while the US now stands accussed of training and arming Shiite 'death squads', in the process of ramping up the formation of new Iraqi Army brigades and strengthening the police force.
It is widely accepted in the Middle East that Iraq government-backed soldiers and police have been conducting executions of Sunnis, sometimes as many as thirty or forty a day, and forcing residents from their homes, either by force or by fear.
It is a shocking story of ethnic cleansing, barely acknowledged by the Western media, or the key leaders of the Western Coalition backing the new Iraq government.
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