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Iran’s President visited Iraq for the first time ever Monday … only months after the U.S. closed its consulate due to Iranian violence.

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What’s Going On:

  • Iran’s president made his first official state visit to Iraq – a highly symbolic meeting between the 2 countries.
  • Iran & Iraq share a Shiite Muslim (sect of Islam) based gov’t.
  • Iran: president under public pressure at home due to bad economy.
  • Iraq: gov’t under pressure by Iraqis who protest Iran’s influence.
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“Relations between Iran and Iraq are special. In the recent years, the people of Iran have passed a test with pride, and that is wherever the peoples of the region faced a problem and asked for the help of the Iranian nation and government, we rushed to help them.”

Iranian Pres. Hassan Rouhani before leaving for Iraq. Iran and Iraq fought an 8-year war in the 1980s; 1M people died.
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Why It Matters:

  • U.S. State Dept designates Iran as a state sponsor of terror (since 1984) for financing terror groups around the world; important to watch Iran’s expanding influence.
  • Iran promotes anti-American rhetoric; says U.S. is evil.
  • U.S. evacuated its consulate in Basra (West Iraq) last Sept. due to rocket fire from Iran. Iran blames America for sowing local dissent.
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“We are determined to secure the release of all U.S. hostages and wrongful detainees, and will not rest until they are home.”

Sec. of State Pompeo marking the 12 year anniversary this weekend (March 9) of FBI agent Bob Levinson's disappearance in Iran. He's believed to be the longest held prisoner in American history. 5 other Americans remain in Iranian prisons. The U.S. & Iran have no diplomatic relations and remain at odds over America's withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal.
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Pres. Trump has said U.S. troops may stay in Iraq to "watch Iran" and counter Iranian influence. More than 4,400 U.S. troops died since beginning of the Iraq war; more than 31,000 wounded. Iran supported militants who fought against U.S. soldiers

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