In Iraq, there are countless fighters working for militias controlled by Iran and the Iraqi government is heavily influenced too.
Iran saw the opportunity to make Iraq a client state years ago and is using it in its quest to spread influence across the Middle East. Furthermore, following a bloody and nasty battle years earlier, Iran wanted to ensure that Iraq would never again be a threat. Iran also wants to use Iraq to control a corridor that runs from Iran’s capital to the Mediterranean.
Iran’s involvement in the country is making tension on the region worse. Saudi Arabia and other US allies are mobilising to counter the threat of Iran and its expansionism. Many claim that it is a Sunni Shiite war going on, but it is much more than just religion.
Iran’s ambitions extend much further than Iraq of course – it has involvement in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, to name but a few. Iran will send militia recruits to Iraq where they will be trained, before sending them off to Syria where they will fight on behalf of Iran who is propping up dictator Bashar al Assad.
At home, propaganda plays a big part in the Iranian regime’s attempts at survival. It uses the same strategy in Iraq too – there are television channels being created with Iranian money. It attempts to make Iran look like it is protecting Iraq and portrays the United States as a dangerous intruder.
The US has in actual fact vowed to remain in Iraq after the ISIS fight ends (partly to keep Iran in check). However, after the 2011 abrupt withdrawal of forces, Iran has a chance to exploit Iraq’s trust, or potential mistrust, of the US.
The pathway through Iraq towards Syria is absolutely crucial to the Iranian regime. It will be the key to moving troops, military supplies, trade goods and Iranian delegations. One day, Iran could be taking supplies to its ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah.
Like at home, Iran has been carrying out some sinister acts. Sunnis in Iraq have been driven out of their homes in an effort to establish Shiite dominance. Ethnic cleansing is becoming a trademark of the Iranian regime.
When trying to establish how we got to the current situation, analysts state that the US did not protect Iraq – it ensured the regime had been toppled, but it effectively handed the country over to Iran.
The Iraqi government is so weak that it does nothing to prevent Iran’s control over trade. Iraq could open its own factories instead of relying in Iran, but the government is not supporting local businesses. It is destroying the economy.
Just like at home, those who have different views than the regime are punished and oppressed. Earlier this year, a Shiite militia leader gave a speech to college students and spoke about Saudi Arabia and Turkey’s dangerous behaviour and rallied against the US. The Iraqi students were horrified and chanted “Iran out!” They were threatened by militiamen and were humiliated online after the event. Iran is infiltrating universities too now.
President Trump has vowed to look closer at Iraq in a bid to counter Iran, bit is it too late? Perhaps the Iranian regime needs to be stopped another way?