Proponents of this argument are forgetting one vital ingredient that Iraq has and Iran lacks. Democracy. Iran can arm and fund militias till kingdom come, but at the end of the day, in Iraq, it is ballot papers, not bullets, that decide who stays in power and who gets the boot. Of course, security issues can destabilise the political process, as we have seen time and time again, but now the Iraqi people have the last say. It is true that the recent election results have been indecisive, and no clear winner has emerged, but a closer look at the numbers proves one thing: Iran did not win.
Iran’s staunchest allies, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, who dropped the word “revolution” from their name because it sounded too Iranian, barely managed to win 20 seats out of 325 in parliament. Iran’s next best friends, the Sadrists, won almost the exact same number of votes but they spread them along district lines and gained double the amount of seats.
Alongside democracy, another factor that will ensure Iraq can never be controlled by Iran, is, ironically, theology. The differences between the Najaf and Qum schools illustrate two diametrically opposed worldviews. Put simply, bearing in mind there are always exceptions, the clerics in Iraq hold the religious belief that jurists cannot hold the same political power their counterparts enjoy in Iran. When Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s highest-ranking Shia scholar, fell ill during the summer of 2004, he… >>>