Foreign Policy Digital

Iraq Is Not an Iranian Vassal State

These days, Tehran is having trouble getting what it wants from its neighbor—a development Washington can encourage by backing off.

It almost goes without saying these days that Iran dominates its western neighbor. On April 27, for example, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed tweeted that Iran’s regime “controls” Iraq. Now-U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton once compared Tehran’s grip on Iraq to the Soviet Union’s stranglehold over Eastern Europe during the late 1940s. And while she was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley assailed Iran last September for working to “build an Iraqi government that is under the control of the Iranian regime.”

Yes, Iran wields significant influence in Iraq. It trade partner, at approximately . In the 2018 elections, Iran loyalists in the Fatah Alliance won 48 of the seats——in Iraq’s parliament, making it the second-largest bloc in the legislature. And Iran has armed Shiite militias, which have parts of the Iraqi economy and are responsible for security in some regions even after the territorial defeat of .

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