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Rapprochement with US Reinforces Iran Hand in Iraq

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"For obvious reasons, the Iranians don't talk publicly about what they are up to in Iraq," but "it is clear that Iran has the ability to wield considerable influence in Iraq today," Kenneth M. Pollack, a senior fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, wrote last June 3.

According to an article presented by Tehran Bureau, the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and published late in November last year, "Iran does not have an interest in Iraq pumping additional oil. It does not want Iraq to have a close relationship with the United States, the Arab states or with Turkey. Iran also does not want Iraq to develop a significant defensive military capability. Ideally, Iran would like to have Iraq under its thumb, yet retain its independence and sovereignty."

Nonetheless, the US seems ambivalent. Pollack has the following interpretation: "Although both Washington and Tehran claim to oppose the other, what Iraqis have seen-- at least since 2010, but arguably longer-- has been the Americans and the Iranians pushing in the same directions: in favor of (PM al-) Maliki against any and all opposition, and against renewed violence. It's no wonder that many Iraqis believe that either the U.S. does not understand its own interests, or else we are selling them out to the Iranians in return for something that they cannot fathom."

To all indications, Iran and US, whether in competition or cooperation, will continue for a long period to come to compromise the sovereignty and independence of Iraq, but "One has to always remember that throughout Iraq's recent existence, it has been a very nationalist country" and will not succumb to a status of a client state either to the United States or to Iran, in view of the Washington-based, Tony Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), quoted by Al -- Arabia satellite TV station on July 25 last year.

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. Email address removed

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*Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist in Kuwait, Jordan, UAE and Palestine. He is based in Ramallah, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

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