TEHRAN, AUG. 8 -- Fear of another conflict with Iraq is overriding any satisfaction Iran might be drawing from international condemnation of its archenemy for invading Kuwait, one of Baghdad's staunchest supporters in the Iran-Iraq war.
"The troublemakers are at each other's throat," Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said Tuesday in his only comment so far on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. "These days the commentators who once accused us are speaking of the innocence of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Reflecting a certain I-told-you-so attitude that has surfaced in some Iranian officials' remarks about the invasion, a senior Foreign Ministry official, Ali Mohammed Basharati, recalled in an article this week that during a visit to Kuwait two years ago, he asked his host if his hotel was "located in territories claimed by Iraq."
"Because when Iraq has finished with us, your turn is next," he said.
Basharati added, "Now I hope Arab leaders have learned their lesson. Their payment of nearly $80 billion to Iraq during eight years of war not only failed to help them but has turned out to be their bane."
In a statement issued just 18 hours after the invasion, Iran condemned Iraq's takeover of Kuwait and called for the immediate and complete withdrawal of Iraqi troops. But Tehran also warned that any intervention by foreign countries in the crisis would destabilize the region further.
"Iran, as the biggest country in the region, having the most interest in the Persian Gulf, cannot remain indifferent to developments that endanger Iran's national security and stability of the region," the Foreign Ministry said.
Many Iranians worry that another Iraqi invasion of their country might be possible if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein emerges from the current crisis in a strengthened position. "If Iraq maintains its hold on Kuwait, this would mean a stronger Iraq which would definitely be a threat," a Western diplomat told Reuter.
Iran and Iraq are technically still at war after a U.N.-brokered cease-fire two years ago ended an eight-year conflict triggered by an Iraqi invasion to settle a territorial dispute. An estimated 1 million people died in the fighting.
"I would not be too surprised if one of these days we hear the red alert on the radio," a Tehran resident said. "By experience we Iranians know that Saddam is crazy."
Iran has moved quickly since the Iraqi invasion to try to improve its image among countries that have condemned Iraq.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati has visited Syria, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Senior officials have been dispatched to Turkey. On Saturday, Tehran announced it was ready to resume diplomatic ties with Britain, and on Tuesday, diplomats were summoned to a meeting at which they were told of new investment opportunities in Iran.
Tehran also has revived and tried to drum up support for its proposal for defense cooperation pacts among Arab Gulf states. In his article, the Foreign Ministry's Basharati said, "Iran is ready to offer every facility, barring military, for a regional pact with the goal of protecting interests of all based on non-aggression. It would further make unjustifiable the military presence of superpowers."
And although the Iraqi crisis has boosted the price of oil, Iran's main source of revenue, the Oil Ministry announced that Tehran has decided not to increase oil production.