IRAQ - The Iraqi government is asking the U.S. and Iran to start talking again. Iraq is hoping the two countries can get along better to create more stability in the region, the Sacramento Bee Reports
Iran and the U.S. held three rounds of talks last year. But they've recently stalled.
There's now strong evidence Iran is working hard behind the scenes to destabilize Iraq.
A Historic Meeting
The historic visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Iraq was designed to be a show of potential cooperation between the two countries.
But a closer look reveals that five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Iran secretly fights to keep Iraq in chaos.
Case in point: Iranian made weapons including rockets and deadly explosives were discovered inside Iraq by coalition forces.
Stopping this flow of weapons into Baghdad is a major goal of the U.S. troop surge.
Much of the effort takes place hundreds of miles away in a desolate wasteland along the Iranian border.
CBN News Reporter Chuck Holton went to see first hand what's being done there.
Camp Shocker is a new forward operating base that's being constructed about a mile from the Iranian border. Many of the soldiers here aren't Americans, though.
They're from the eastern European country of Georgia, and they're here manning checkpoints to stop the flow of weapons, people and money across the border into Iraq.
There are some Americans stationed here. Their role is to advise the Iraqi troops along the frontier.
The challenges are significant. That's because there are hundreds of years of cultural precedent to overcome…bribery and smuggling are an accepted way of life here. But with training and support from these Americans, the Iraqis are making significant headway.
Captain Brendan McEvoy commands one of these teams.
"The terrorist elements on the other side are seeing this, and the drop off in attacks throughout Wasit province and in Baghdad is significant enough that we've noticed that our work here has had some success." McEvoy said.
Signs of Progress
That success is very apparent in some of Baghdad's neighborhoods, such as one where 90 days ago the stores were closed and the people stayed home out of fear.
Now, when General David Petraeus tours the area, things are much different. But the commander of U.S. forces here is quick to point out that the Iraqi people get the credit.
Petraeus: "Let's not forget that there's been an Iraqi surge ongoing./ Those people are turning in the bad guys, bringing out the weapons caches, are identifying the improvised explosive devices and ultimately are volunteering to help with security."
For the Iraqi troops stationed along the Iranian frontier, helping with security means tracking down smugglers, beefing up border searches and staying vigilant in the midst of an incredibly bleak landscape.
The scars of the brutal Iran/Iraq war fought some 20 years ago can still be seen everywhere, and nearby Iranian forces provide a tense but constant reminder that reconciliation between these two countries has yet to arrive.
Originally published May 8, 2008