There was a time when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was assured of the Iranian government’s support. In 2006, Tehran rubber-stamped his first election as premier. The Shiite Iraqi leader could also count on help from his Shiite neighbor in the fight against Sunni extremists. But now, Tehran is moving away from a prime minister who rejects national reconciliation, thus fueling the conflicts in Iraq. On Tuesday, Iran’s national Security Council announced a change of course: the country now supports a parliamentary procedure to replace al-Maliki. The third term in office al-Maliki has been planning for since parliamentary elections in April appears to be beyond reach, with Haidar al-Abadi, deputy President of Parliament in Baghdad, likely to be the one to receive Iran’s blessing.
On Monday, Iraq’s president called on al-Abadi to form a new government. Since the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iran have been heavily involved in their neighbors’ affairs. According to Ferhad Seyder, an Iraq expert and a professor at Erfurt University, the influence hails from years ago. During Hussein’s reign between 1979-2003, the Shiite majority in Iraq remained steadily suppressed and many of them fled to neighboring Iran. “Close relationships were formed as a result of this,” said Seyder in an interview with DW. Since then, Tehran has established strong connections with nearly all the Shiite parties, movements, organizations and militias in Iraq. Even the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two most important Kurdish movements in northern Iraq, is allied with Iran. More