Iranian Influence in Iraq
Robin Wright of the Washington Post discusses the ways that US officials view Iran as seeking influence in Iraq. Her contacts confirm what I have also long suspected, which is that the Iranians are giving money to virtually all the major Shiite groups, and probably some of the Sunni and Kurdish ones, too.
‘ “Iran is using all instruments available to interfere and be a very active player in Iraq,” a senior U.S. intelligence official said. “Within the Shiite orbit, there’s a large menu of actors, and Tehran is placing bets on enough of them to ensure it ends up with ties to a winner.” With Iraq’s political spectrum still taking shape, Iran has covered most major options for the next phase of the transition that begins June 30 by providing various types of assistance to mainstream figures such as Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani as well as radicals such as Moqtada Sadr; former U.S. favorite Ahmed Chalabi; and long-standing ally the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, U.S. sources said. ‘
I am quoted:
‘But U.S. analysts also warn that Washington will have little luck in preventing a growing Iranian role in Iraq. “For the United States to assume that they can stop Iran from being influential in Iraq is silly. It’s like worrying that the Vatican might have influence in Ireland,” said Juan Cole, a University of Michigan specialist on Shiite Muslims.’
The Iranian ambassador to Jordan as much as admitted Washington’s charges of meddling (which are always greeted some mirth in Tehran, since it seems clear to the Iranians that it is the US that is meddling in Iraq). He said that the Iranian government has been “in contact” with various Iraqi religious groups, especially the Shiites.
Meanwhile, AP’s Mariam Fam profiles the slums of East Baghdad, “Sadr City,” and the unpopularity on the whole of the United States there. Muqtada al-Sadr and his movement are strongest in Sadr City.