The US has gone to great lengths to counter Iranian influence in Iraq, including using its status as an occupying power and Iraq’s main source of aid, as well as through information operations and more traditional press statements highlighting Iranian meddling.
However, containing Iranian influence, while important, is not America’s main goal in Iraq. It is rather to create a stable democratic Iraq that can defeat the remaining extremist and insurgent elements, defend against foreign threats, sustain an able civil society, and emerge as a stable power friendly to the US.
Iran seeks to ensure that Iraq does not serve as a base for the US, serve US interests, or reemerge as a threat to Iran. Iran shares a long and porous border with Iraq, and seeks to create a stable and malleable ally, not a peer competitor. It seeks to rid the country of American influence – particularly of American military personnel – to the greatest extent possible. Iran has aggressively used its networks, patronage, economic ties, religious ties, aid money, and military support to various factions in Iraq to achieve these goals.
Iran, however, has overplayed its hand at times and created anti-Iranian popular backlash. Resentment over Iran’s political and economic influence, as well as Iranian incursions into Iraqi territory, fuel deeply seeded Iraqi mistrust of Iran. Politically, Iraq’s Shi’ites are far from united and in the most recent elections lost… >>>