Iran and Iraq are neighbors with a long and complicated history. With the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. in 2002 and its ongoing military efforts within the country, Iraq has changed, leaving it ripe for Iranian influence from across the border.
The latest efforts in Iraq are focused on taking this country into the future as a democracy, something that is not easy for a government still built around using corruption and bribes to get things done. The recent election is about choosing the members of the Council of Representatives, a group that will number 329. This group will then elect the country’s president and prime minister.
Therefore, this election could have a large impact on the future of the country. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is ahead in the polls, but there are concerns that he will be unable to create a coalition. His last attempt failed, in large part due to the impact of the militias, which are sectarian and backed by the Iranian regime.
Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is also heavily influenced by the fundamentalism of Iran and its mullahs, is on bad terms with Abadi, which is another issue for him.
“The venally corrupt Maliki spent his two terms in office robbing the Iraqi people and faithfully carrying out instructions from Tehran to wage war on his own Sunni citizens. He now uses his plundered fortune to finance paramilitary intimidation of his political enemies,” said Struan Stevenson, the President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) and a former member of the European Parliament.
In 2003, the U.S. instituted a policy meant to address infighting, by requiring that the Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis are all represented in the new government. If anything, that requirement has backfired, as the infighting has grown worse, making Iraq ripe for the influence of the mullahs through their militias.
With a weakened Iraq, Iran continues to spread its influence throughout the rest of the region, and it has a destabilizing effect on the Middle East.
“[The] Iranian regime’s ability to sway the outcome of the Iraqi elections as part of its wider strategy of destabilizing the Middle East should be of deep concern to the West. Iranian hegemony in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq is a threat not only to peace in the Middle East, but also to world peace. Iranian meddling, particularly by the terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in virtually every aspect of Iraq’s political, economic, and security structures, aided and abetted by years of wrong-headed American policies, will make it almost impossible to hold a free and fair election,” said Stevenson.
For the international community, it is clear that to address the influence of the Iranian regime, the world needs to get acquainted with an alternative. The Iranian resistance, led by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), will be holding their annual meeting in Paris on June 30. During the meeting, they will be exploring what a free Iran can look like, as well as its impact on the international community and the Middle East.