In the Arena

Today in Iran and Iraq

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According to to the New York Times, the prospect of President Obama means the Iraqis will probably sign the Status of Force Agreement because they believe the new President is more likely to abide by the troop withdrawal timetable than a President McCain would have been.

Meanwhile, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has extended an olive sprig–not quite a branch–in the form of a letter congratulating Obama on his victory. This is a promising gesture, but perhaps not a very meaningful one–since, as we know, Ahmadinejad doesn’t have power over either Iran’s foreign policy or its nuclear program. It may be a bit of politicking on Ahmadinejad’s part, since he’s running for reelection next June and the new U.S. President is probably very popular among Iran’s America-loving populace. Or it may be a serious opening, directed by Ahmadinejad’s boss, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. We’ll see how Obama reacts at his press conference today.

Update:┬áJay Ackroyd raises an interesting point in comments…

Could the Iraqi government be a broker in improving Iran/US relations?

I’m not sure about the answer to that–intra-Shi’ite politics are very difficult to suss out–but I”ll ask around.