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DEFENSE
LANGUAGE INSTITUTE FOREIGN LANGUAGE CENTER (UPF)

 

 

 

 

 

Iranian
Political and Military Interests in Post 9/11 Iraq

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BY

A1C, STOUT,
TANNER

 

 

 

PF00417C

January 22,
2018

 

 

 

 

 

Iranian
Political and Military Interests in Post 9/11 Iraq

 

Defense
Language Institute Foreign Language Center (UPF)

            The Middle East
has been a controversial topic of discussion for decades. The struggle for
power and religious dominance has caused disagreements, wars, and hostility
throughout the countries residing in that region. The Iranian Revolution in
1979 caused a great deal of the issues in the Middle East today. These issues
have continued into 2000’s and are still affecting trade and relations in the
region. The Middle East is known as a hotbed for terrorist activity. This
region has been an area in which terrorist groups formed and terrorist
operations have been run, as well as a location with high sponsorship of terrorism.
This is one of the main reasons for the United States involvement in the Middle
East. On September 11, 2001 a terrorist group known as Al-Qaeda wreaked havoc on
the US when it hijacked four separate planes and destroyed the World Trade
Center and part of the Pentagon. Immediately following the events of 9/11, the
United States declared war on terrorism, which increased US military presence in
the Middle East. This led to a main increase in US troops in Iraq, in an attempt
to destroy Al-Qaeda. This led to an 8 year long war in the country. (

            Post 9/11 Iraq was
a place of war. In 2003, a United States led coalition invaded Iraq with the
hopes of overthrowing the leader Saddam Hussein. After the fall of the Hussein
government, the country was open to influence. This resulted in increased interest
from Iran in the country. Iran saw this as an opportunity to increase their
hold in the Middle East. Firstly, Iran wanted the US out of Iraq so that they
could start their plans to influence the country. Secondly, they wanted to keep
the Shiite government in power. Thirdly, they want to use Iraq as a tool to
expand their reach in the region.

            After the overthrow
of the Hussein government, largely due the US, new government was in power. The
majority of the country ran this government. The Shiite Islamic majority of
Iraq was in power and ultimately this boded well for Iran. In order to take
advantage of the newfound Iraqi government, Iran needed the United States out
of the country. Iran needed them out of the country so that the borders would
be unprotected. This would allow Iran to send its goods through the border and
start selling its products in the country, effectively increasing its
influence. This also opened up the opportunity to reach other areas of the
Middle East. They used their shared border with Iraq to get to Syria. They
funded militias fighting against Iraq and sent Shiite militia to fight with
Iraq on the Syrian border. This shows that Iran has two different ideas on what
it wants to do with Iraq long term. It could either create a failed state by
fighting against the government or help to maintain a Shiite government and use
Iraq as a resourceful ally. It is unclear though, as to which side they will
work harder towards achieving. Either of these options assures that Iraq will
never pose a military threat to Iran again. This is the focus of Iran in terms
of their overall involvement in Iraq.

            Keeping the Shiite
government in power is of great importance to Iran because it gives them an
uncommon ally as far as religion is concerned. As the majority of the countries
in the Middle East are Sunni, this poses an issue for Iran who is majority
Shia. Prior to the events of 9/11 a minority Sunni government led Iraq. This
caused problem between the two countries including a terrible war in the 1980’s.
Ever since this war, Iran has increased its military force to insure that it
not be susceptible to an attack.

            The third focus of
Iran in Iraq is supporting Iraqi federalism. There are two sides to the idea
behind this support. The first thing behind this support is to divide Iraq into
three regions. Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish regions. Splitting up Iraq has one
major benefit for Iran. It weakens the government and increases the power that
Iran has over Iraq. The second side is to put a Shiite Islamic State in place
in southern Iraq. Having a Shiite state in the south of Iraq would help Iran to
strengthen relations and therefore give them high influence over the country as
a whole. Iran does not want Iraq to become a democratic state that can be used
by the United States. This would look bad on Iran and force them to change
their own beliefs into one that differs that of Iraq. This would be the only
way to attempt to prove that the Islamist State must remain distant from
Western influence.

            Iran has shown
plenty of interest in the country of Iraq and how much influence that intend to
have in the future of the nation’s government. Along with influencing the very
government structure itself, Iran also plans to have a role in the religion. As
of right now there are two religious leaders in Iraq. Ali al-Sistani who does
not believe that the government in Iran is one that would be beneficial to
Iraq. He believes that Islamic Law should be in place, but clerics should not
rule the country as they do in Iran. The second is Moqtada al-Sadr who supports
more religion in political practices. He also has ben know to have much
stronger ties to Iran and has agreed to fight alongside the Iranians if the
United States was to attack. This provides Iran with a powerful religious
leader in Iraq who could potentially enact the religion in politics type
government that would benefit Iran. One resembling their own.

            Politically, Iran
has a lot of interest in Iraq. They also have shown interest from a military
standpoint. Since 2014, Iran has been supplying Iraq with military aid in order
to help them fight ISIS. Iran has also placed certain high-ranking military
officials in Iraq. They have also placed a number of billboards showing the
face of a high-ranking official. This shows the new influence that Iran has
over Iraq, especially in the capitol Baghdad. One of the main groups in Iraq
that shows the Iranian Influence is the Saraya al-Khorasani. Ayatollah Khamenei
formed the group in order to combat the Sunni Jihadists in Syria and Iraq. The leader
was General Taghavi who was featured on the billboards in Iraq. He inspired many
of the Iraqi Shiite Soldiers. The main purpose of an Iranian military presence in
Iraq is to fight terrorism. Both the US and Iran have taken a strong interest
in Iraq and ending the terrorist threat in the country. This is great for Iraq
and has proven very successful with nearly all of the ISIS held cities being
freed. With the benefits to Iraq, come disadvantages to Iran. Having the United
States help with the terrorism problem in Iraq makes some problems for Iran.
Under the new President, Donald J. Trump, Iran is facing more sanctions and a
possible renegotiation of the nuclear treaty. This could potentially make it
difficult for Iran to continue its influence in the country.

            The topic of the
Middle East only becomes increasingly controversial as the United States and
Iran both fight for more influence. Ever since the events of 9/11, Iraq has
been a place filled with violence and changing government. With the fall of
Hussein, and Shiites taking control and the struggle with terrorism the country
has been open to much influence of the past decade. This has drawn interest
from both the United States and Iran. Iran has gained most of the influence
considering their close proximity to Iraq. The majority Shia Muslim population
of Iran and Iraq also gives them a shared religious view. In many ways, Iran
has already solidified its overall influences in Iraq. Using both political and
military, Iran has taken quite a hold on Iraq. It has taken advantage of the common
religious views, with the fact that both of the governments are Shiite. It has
also taken interest in getting the United States out of the country in order to
further its reach in the Middle East. Iran believes that there are two ways of
gaining better control and power in the region. Through dividing Iraq into
three weaker sections and by fully supporting a religious-political government
similar to their own. This has caused some controversy among some in the
region. The starting of several military groups in the region has also helped
to defeat the terrorism causing problems and to strengthen the relationship
between the two countries.

           

Iran’s
Goals in Iraq. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2018, from https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/irans-goals-iraq

 

Newsweek.
(2018). Iran and Iraq team up against extremism, which could frustrate U.S.
goals. online Available at:
http://www.newsweek.com/iran-iraq-military-unite-terrorism-potential-problems-us-641118
Accessed 22 Jan. 2018.

 

Arango,
T. (2018). Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. ‘Handed the Country Over’.
online Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/15/world/middleeast/iran-iraq-iranian-power.html
Accessed 22 Jan. 2018.

 

 

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