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Iranian occupation infiltrates into all sectors of Iraq - Analysts

Tehran's dominance in Baghdad
After the US invasion of Iraq 14 years ago, Iran seized the opportunity to make its long awaited dream come true. It used Iraq as a gateway to the region to create its Shiite Crescent in the Middle East. It has gradually infiltrated into all sectors of Iraq, making itself the Persian master of Baghdad whose dominance cannot be challenged even by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. 

Iran’s influence in Iraq is diverse as it can be felt in military, political, economic and cultural affairs.

Across Iraq, Iranian-backed militias are commissioned to establish a corridor to move men and guns to proxy forces in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. It aims to use the country to effectively control a corridor from Tehran to the Mediterranean.

The New York Times in a recent report cited Hoshyar Zebari, former Iraqi finance minister, as saying that “Iranian influence is dominant,” adding that “it is paramount.”

Economic dependence 

Iraq relies on Tehran when it comes to electricity, food products, and other commodities. It was reported in May that Iran’s electricity exports to Iraq have steeply risen this year, hitting 1,350 megawatts recently. 

Media reports revealed in June that Tehran began exporting gas to neighboring Iraq. 
The daily flow will start at around 7 billion cubic meters per day and eventually grow to 35 billion cubic meters per day, according to the reports.

Moreover, there is an estimated $13 billion in annual trade between the two countries.

According a report published by The Financial Tribune, Iran and Iraq signed a memorandum of understanding early this year to expand relations between the central banks of the two countries.

Iran’s import from the neighboring country currently remains minimal while exports are significant. Iran shipped around $6.1 billion worth of commodities in the last Iranian year (March 2016-17) to Baghdad, the report said.

Based on a report by Iranian Customs Administration published in the fiscal 2015-16, Iran’s exports to Iraq rose from $4.4 billion in March 2010-11 to $6.1 billion in March 2014-15.

During the period, Iraq imported $1.1 billion worth of Iranian construction materials, accounting for 55% of Iraq’s total imports of construction materials.

Mineral fuels and refinery products are Iran’s second biggest exports to Iraq after construction materials, as 48% ($294 million) of Iraq’s total imports of these products ($616 million) belonged to Iran, the report added.

Iran is the third biggest exporter of health products and cosmetics to Iraq after Turkey and Jordan. Iran’s exports in this area stood at $90 million during the four-year period, from the total $430 million worth of health products and cosmetics the country imported, the report concluded.

Far-reaching political dominance 

Politically, Iran has a large number of allies in the Iraqi Parliament who can help secure its goals. The Shiite militias are in the process of establishing a political representation in the lead-up to Iraq’s planned 2018 provincial and parliamentary elections. 

Under a law passed in November but not implemented, Iranian Militias in Iraq and Syria (IMIS) was to become an official security body affiliated with the Iraqi armed forces. If this law was enacted, IMIS members can run for office and participate in politics.

In Iraq, political parties and entities wishing to run for election must abolish their armed wings. The new law would allow the armed factions under IMIS umbrella to be incorporated into one officially recognized body.

This could secure even more dominance for Iran over Iraq’s political system, observers said. 
They added that being part of the political scene means far-reaching powers that can push the country into the abyss of sectarianism and ethnic cleansing. 

Iran's military arm in Iraq

Tehran's dominance came at a heavy price as it ignited sectarian tensions in Iraq and across the region. 

Iran-backed IMIS have been accused of widespread sectarian cleansing, pushing Sunnis from their homes to establish Shiite dominance.

Although ISIS has been expelled from many Iraqi cities, thousands of Sunni families still fill camps and are unable to return home. It has been recently reported that joint forces and IMIS have executed a number of detainees in Mosul city in Nineveh Governorate. Sources said that Iran-allied IMIS has threatened to kill Sunni Iraqis in Babel province if they don't leave the area within 24 hours.

Challenging Abadi's authority 

Iran's dominance in Iraq challenges Abadi's authority and puts him in an embarrassing situation. 
However, analysts in Baghdad expect that the Iraqi prime minister will not turn against Iran soon. 

They noted that balance remains the name of the prime minister’s game for fear of ending his political career. 

Abadi  appeals to the majority Shiite population while appeasing Sunnis by separating himself from Tehran’s interference in Iraq and downplaying his political party’s (Dawa) historical ties to Iran, they added.

Last Modified: Wednesday، 19 July 2017 09:39 PM