Leaks of Iran influence no surprise to Iraqis
Official documents from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security were published by the Intercept, an online news publication, which collaborated with the New York Times on reporting the information. However, exposure of such Iranian activities did not come as a surprise to many Iraqis.
Aside from protesting against chronic corruption, unemployment and lack of basic services, the demonstrations in Iraq have had a heavy focus on ending Iranian influence in Iraq. Chants such as “Iran out, out! Iraq will remain free,” have frequently been used.
During his reign, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein did everything in his power to prevent Iranian influence in Iraq, particularly following Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1979 Islamic Revolution when Khomeini sought to export the revolution globally.
The threat of Islamic Revolution spreading to Iraq provided Saddam with pretext for initiating a war, which lasted for eight years. Saddam also sought to annex Iran’s Khuzestan province, which is mostly inhabited by ethnic Arabs.
Iran’s hostile behaviour since 1979 played a significant role in the United States’ decision to support Iraq during the war with Iran.
From Saddam’s perspective, Iraqi troops prevented Iranian hostility, safeguarded the Arab population of the Middle East who were at risk of Khomeini’s revolution and prevented a Kurdish rebellion and partition in the north.
Until Saddam’s downfall, Iran-Iraq relations improved significantly, particularly after US influence in Iraq deteriorated following the departure of US troops in 2011. In post-Saddam Iraq, Iran had several objectives it sought to achieve and Tehran held a secure grasp over Iraq.
The first objective for Iran was making sure that Iraq would never use its military strength to threaten Iran again. Widespread corruption following the downfall of the Ba’ath Party regime contributed to ensuring a weak Iraqi Army.
A second aim was ensuring that Iran safeguarded a Shia-controlled, fragile and splintered Iraqi government that would be welcoming towards Iran and back Tehran’s foreign policy aims.
Read more at: The Arab Weekly
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