AAM: "the consolidation of long-standing arrangements."
John Roberts asks Michael about Ahmadinejah's visit and whether he's really just there to stir up trouble.
JOHN ROBERTS: Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is on the second day of his two-day trip to Iraq. He arrived on Sunday and was greeted warmly by Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, as well as the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. Ahmadinejad said he was happy to be visiting without Saddam in power, and he took aim at the United States, rejecting claims that Iran is arming Shiite militias in Iran.
CNN's Michael Ware is live in Baghdad for us this morning. Michael, there have long been good relations between Iraq Shiite leaders in Iran. Now it looks like Talabani, a Kurd, is also on board. Does this whole visit signal a new alliance between Iraq and Iran?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, in fact, no. What it signals is the consolidation of long-standing arrangements. Even the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani -- a Kurd from northern Iraq -- his half of Kurdistan, which is under his party's control, borders Iran. So he's long had an association with the Iranians. And indeed, this Iraqi government is dominated by Iraqi Shia, many of whose parties are directly linked to Iran or in fact, including the most powerful, was actually created in Iran.
So President Ahmadinejad's tour here very much has a triumphant air -- a victory over the executed dictator Saddam Hussein, who waged a vicious eight-year war against Iran in the '80s, and a perceived victory against American influence. He's here strutting, flaunting Iran's influence. Indeed, just this morning in a press conference, he said that the American presence in an Arab country is an insult and a humiliation to the region, and the best thing America could do is pack up and leave -- John.
ROBERTS: Yes, he seems bent on causing divisions there as well. We said in the lead in here that he rejected the idea that Iran is arming the Mahdi militia, which is engaging in attacks against America, and he couldn't help but take another swipe at the United States. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): You tell Mr. Bush accusing others will not resolve America's problems in the region. The time of accusing others has passed. They must accept the realities of the region. The people of Iraq do not want the Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: So he's saying time and time again here, Iraqis do not like Americans. They don't want the Americans there. What kind of impact is that going to have in Iraq?
WARE: Well, what he's doing is playing to a domestic market both in Iran and here in Iraq. I mean, he's hitting key buttons here and they will resonate to a certain degree, particularly among the harder line Shia community, the pockets within that community that are very much attuned to that message. Obviously, Iraq Sunnis are very cautious. They're wary of Iranian influence and have sided with America at last in the past year or so.
But at the end of the day, Iran has greater influence in this country, certainly politically right now than does America. Indeed, some of the top U.S. officials in the mission here on the ground have conceded time and time again to me that in the last six years the big winner here has been Iran. And President Ahmadinejad's visit is just to stamp that. It's to showboat that. Indeed, if you compare his visits to those of President Bush, President Bush's visits have been fleeting and in secret and he's gone to U.S. bases and harbored there. Whereas the Iranian president walks the street and says I own this place, more or less -- John.
ROBERTS: All right. Michael Ware for us this morning from Baghdad. Michael, thanks.