Iranian cable leaks reveal extent of puppeteer’s grip on Iraq

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Evidence of this influence exists in abundance.

Qassem Suleimani – head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and de facto leader of the constellation of Iranian proxies across the Middle East – is a frequent guest in Baghdad and a fixture of recent events. His trips to Iraq invariably reaffirm the long arm of Iranian influence.

Militias that claim their loyalty to Iran have operated openly in Iraq for years, and the goodwill displayed by a number of prominent Iraqi politicians towards Iran goes beyond standards of close international friendships.

New documents, discovered and published by The New York Times and Interception yesterday, make Iran’s infiltration into Iraqi government institutions even more explicit.

Interception‘s write notes how the documents “provide a detailed portrait of the aggressiveness with which Tehran has sought to integrate into Iraqi affairs,” and present a leading role for Suleimani.

No man can be Prime Minister of Iraq without Iranian support, Interception and the incumbent Adil Abdul-Mahdi developed a “special relationship” with Iran during his exile, and later, after the fall of Saddam.

The die was cast, some say, when pro-Iranian Nouri al-Maliki was allowed to continue his long tenure as prime minister despite his lack of a popular mandate in 2010.

Iran’s success in becoming the city’s most powerful man has been repeatedly proven

Other politicians have also fallen into Iran’s orbit. Iran’s embassies are full, the documents suggest, of Revolutionary Guard men for whom “cultivating Iraqi officials was a key part of their work” – something that “was facilitated by the alliances that many leaders Iraqis forged with Iran when they belonged to the opposition. groups fighting Saddam “.

But more than securing relationships with politicians Iran can “trust with their eyes closed,” in a revealing comment from Gheis Ghoreishi, Iran has also inherited and cultivated a network of agents within the country to compensate. the void left by the former Iraqi occupiers.

When America left the scene in 2011, “Iran moved quickly to add former CIA informants to its payroll.” Needless to say, all of this activity was as much about keeping an eye on Americans as it was about understanding how the Iraqi state works.

Understanding the Iraqi state is one thing; keeping it on track is another. This is something Iran undertook, knowing that a more stable Iraqi economy would be to its advantage.

Iran’s power rests in part on some of the militias that dominate Iraqi politics. In the chaos of the war against the Islamic State (IS) in 2014, the general mobilization was accompanied by the institutionalization of armed militias, many of them openly sectarian, many of them openly favorable to Iranian interests. When these militias were legalized in 2016, and later included in the recent Iraqi army reorganization, the game seemed to have been won.

Iran’s success in becoming the city’s most powerful man has been proven time and time again. But his influence remains deeply unpopular. The Iranian consulate in the holy city of Karbala was recently torched by protesters, while political parties supporting Iran, which made progress in the 2018 parliamentary elections, now face strong popular disapproval.

The fact that Iran’s networks of influence are so powerful in Iraq sheds new light on the country’s extreme political dysfunction

The fact that Iran’s networks of influence are so powerful in Iraq sheds new light on the country’s extreme political dysfunction. If the Iraqi political sphere has been overtaken by foreign interference, the failure of Iraqi politicians to solve endemic social problems seems both more explainable and less excusable. It seems that the country is not ruled in its own interest, but rather in favor of the interests of another.

The recent and shocking violence used against Iraqi protesters has been attributed to Iranian influence and determination to maintain its position.

According to the documents, Iraq has also been used as a springboard for other Iranian regional projects and has favored Iraqi politicians. assisted by supplying the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria with arms.

But the obviousness of the Iranian project in Iraq has had consequences for both countries. Iran and its agents became unpopular as the Iraqi economy and society continued to struggle and its politics remained sclerotic.

Read more: Iran’s proxies allowed corruption to escalate in Lebanon and Iraq. The protesters have not forgotten

Through Interception, these complaints were compounded by the actions of Iranian agents in Iraq: “The [Iranian] The Intelligence Ministry feared Iran’s gains in Iraq would be wasted because the Iraqis resented the Shiite militias and the Quds Force that sponsored them so much.

With Iraqi politics in torpor, it’s no surprise that popular protests continue in Iraq, and now in Iran itself, where more than 100 people have been killed in just three days of protests.

It is clear that the Iranian model will never satisfy the Iraqi people and actually serves as a focal point for local popular resistance to a succession of unpopular governments. Sixteen years after the American invasion of Iraq, and eight years after the American withdrawal, the Iraqi people finally deserve to govern themselves.

James Snell is a writer whose work has been published in numerous international publications including The telegraph, Perspective, National exam, NOW News, Middle East Eye and History today.

Follow him on Twitter:
@James_P_Snell

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board, or its team.



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