| 01.04,16. 04:26 AM |
Iran profoundly anxious with Muqtada Sadr’s move in Iraq
By: Keyvan Salami
After Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced a bold new package of reforms last August, the increasingly sectarian nature of this country’s politics – as a result of Iran’s heavy influence and meddling – has riddled this task difficult. As Iraq continues its efforts in the ongoing battle against ISIS and launching a campaign to regain Mosul after nearly two years, the recent turn of events in the capital Baghdad have become very alarming. With Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr initiative pushing for a technocrat cabinet and his supporters staging picket lines outside the heavily fortified Green Zone, it is worth noting Iran is the party most concerned of all, realizing its interests and decades long political and economic investment is seriously on the line.
The recent turn of events, a cri de coeur led by Sadr loyalists, is most definitely a confrontation of interests in Iran, with that of Iran and former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki placed in a face-off against the Iraqi people’s national interests and their future in general.
As developments are on fast forward in Iraq, rumors indicate the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad packed bags and left for Tehran in recent days. Alarming caught off guard by the new status quo, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was left with no choice but to cancel his plans to visit Baghdad this week. To add insult to injury, reports show Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf refused to accept Rouhani for a meeting, forcing Tehran to claim the Grand Ayatollah had raised illness issues.
Iraq is witnessing major rifts in a hybrid Shiite coalition Iran went great lengths to establish. Various Shiite camps are realizing their interests are no longer parallel with Iran, and the few remaining loyal factions are feeling the heat. The sheer structure of governance in Iraq is one the line, raising eyebrows in Baghdad and Tehran.
Circumstances have crystalized from political remarks to a widespread popular campaign, and senior governmental officials must heed the calls and comply. Ordinary Iraqis are making specific demands from their government, seeking actions, not words. The very fabric of the establishment Iran had formulated in Iraq is tearing apart.
This major setback for Tehran in Iraq has evolved after enduring other losses regarding their nuclear ambitions, the sham twin elections in February weakening Tehran at the top decision making level, and Russia pulling out of Syria and leaving Iran to bear the burden. Defeats suffered in Yemen from an Arab coalition spearheaded by Iran’s archrival Saudi Arabia, and the Lebanese Hezbollah blacklisted by the Arab World are also nails in Tehran’s coffin.
These recent developments carry a very important bedrock message: Iran is further isolated in the Middle East and beyond. In Iraq, democratic and popular forces are taking control and deserve support from the West, leaving Iran terrified of similar outcomes in the not so distant future.
Keyvan Salami tweets at @SalamiKeyvan