After Iran and Iraq signed an agreement March 19 to improve border security cooperation, the English-language coverage of the news mostly focused on Iran’s armed Kurdish opposition, which has launched attacks on Iranian territory from its bases in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. While this angle also dominated the coverage of the agreement in Iran’s state-censored media, there was also mention of the triangular economic coordination among Iran, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates: Iraq will begin paying for its debts and imports from Iran in Emirati dirhams, which Iran will use, as an alternative to the U.S. dollar, to secure imports.
- March 17: Mashregh News reported that Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, planned to visit Baghdad to discuss security cooperation between Iran and Iraq.
- March 19: Nour News, a mouthpiece of the Supreme National Security Council, reported that the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Foreign Ministry economic affairs director, and Foreign Ministry Persian Gulf director would all join the Shamkhani-led delegation to Baghdad.
- March 19: Fars News’ coverage of Shamkhani’s visit to Baghdad focused on the security threats to Iranian territory: “Iran and Iraq signed a security agreement … which will reduce and manage undesired security challenges emanating from the villainy of the counterrevolution present in the Iraqi Kurdistan region … According to the security agencies of the Islamic Republic, elements of the Zionist regime have engaged in operations in Iran in coordination and cooperation with counterrevolutionary groups present in Iraqi Kurdistan.”
- March 20: Ali-Reza Enayati, deputy foreign minister and Foreign Ministry Persian Gulf director, explained the purpose of the Shamkhani-led delegation’s visit to Iraq in an interview with the Iranian Students’ News Agency: “The signed security agreement shows the mutual interests of both countries. We have always emphasized that Iraq’s security is also our security, and vice versa. The latest agreement is mostly about our shared borders, so there are not threats against us, and our Iraqi brethren too have always said, according to the Iraqi Constitution, Iraqi soil should not serve as a platform to attack neighboring countries.”
- March 20: The Iran Student Correspondents Association, quoting Shamkhani, reported: “The agreement signed has several dimensions. Both countries will follow a specific plan to bereave counterrevolutionary groups of the opportunity to engage in activities against Iran from the Iraqi Kurdistan region.” Turning to the economic dimension of the visit, which includes Iran’s cooperation with the United Arab Emirates: “We have taken steps to facilitate new means for Iraq to pay its debts to Iran” in Emirati dirhams, which the Iranian government can provide to “Iranian merchants to pay for importing basic goods to Iran.”