Still, Mr. Knights acknowledges, “the more you think about it, the more examples there are” of Iranian influence. “They’re circumstantial, but that’s how behind-the-scenes influence works,” he says.
Since then, Mr. al-Maliki has all but ignored Iranian military incursions on Kurdish lands in Iraq’s north. The government has delayed — and in Mr. al-Sadr’s case, quashed — arrest warrants on militants backed by Iranian forces and financiers.
In Mandali, a mixed Kurdish-Arab city about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad, local officials complain Iran is taking advantage of the poorly marked 906-mile border to claim Iraqi territory with little to no resistance from Baghdad.
In the southern port city of Basra, a half-hour from the Iranian border and 340 miles from Baghdad, Iran is helping supply electricity and cheap goods to Iraqis who would otherwise go without.
Last summer, Iranian First Vice President Mohammed Reza Rahimi led a 170-firm business delegation to Baghdad, a visit Western diplomats in Baghdad saw as an Iranian move to muscle in on its economically stagnant neighbor.
But Sami al-Araji, chairman of the National Investment Commission of Iraq, downplayed the concerns.
“We are open for business and for trade with all those who are desiring to come into Iraq and to participate,” Mr. al-Araji said. “Let the politicians take care of the politics.”
Ghanim Abdul-Amir, a Basra provincial councilman, hopes one aspect of Iran’s role will wane once the Americans leave. He said he has long complained to Iranian officials about weapons being smuggled into Iraq. The Iranians replied that it won’t stop until U.S. troops are gone.
“The Iranians’ answer is that they cannot prevent people from fighting the occupier,” Mr. Abdul-Amir said.View Entire Story
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