Iranian influence in Iraq has largely been through providing money for projects and initiatives that improve the culture and economy of Iraq, but with money drying up, the Iranian Regime has left many of the projects unfinished; something highly damaging to the Iraqi people.
One example of this is the Marshland Housing project, where Iranian companies poured the concrete foundations for houses that would benefit the very poor Marsh Arabs living in the South of Iraq but never finished the job. The companies were pre-paid, so the Marsh Arabs worse off than before. Now they have no houses and no money.
Another example is the al-Sheeb border-crossing road, which Iran wanted in order to deliver its goods from the border crossing to urban areas of Maysan Province. The road is half-built and it shows no signs of ever being completed.
As time goes on, Iraq is only seeing more promises from Iran broken and more economic assistance withdrawn. What’s worse, now that Iran can no longer buy influence, it has sent in its militas to take it by force.
Border crossings in southern Iraq are under control of the Iraqi government – unlike the northern border crossings, which are under the control of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces – who are rejecting substandard Iranian goods; something that is gravely affecting the Iranian economy. That’s why Iran is sending in its militias to take control of the border crossings and ensure that Iranian goods enter Iraq for sale to an unsuspecting public.
Iran’s militias are operating in the same fashion as ISIS, using theft, protection rackets, and business take-overs at gunpoint. To back up their actions, Iranian militias make threats, attempt assassinations and create general mayhem to get money to funds themselves and the Iranian Regime.
But while the direct harm Iran is doing in increasing, its influence in Iraq is declining steadily. And change in Iraq may already be underway.
Michael Flanagan wrote: “It is possible that the turning point is at hand. Iran will continue to wield influence legitimately by political and economic activities or illegitimately through its militias.
In either case, Iran will be the dominant foreign presence in Iraq for some time to come but the writing may be on the wall. Iran’s time may be coming to an end in Iraq.”