Iraq Poised to Become Main Iranian Ally

(AP/Washington Post) Tarek Al-Issawi - To Iran's west lies a natural ally and perhaps its most potent weapon in the international fray over its nuclear program. All signs point to an increasingly robust relationship with Iraq now that Shiites have achieved a dominant role in the leadership. Iran and Iraq share a Shiite Muslim majority and deep cultural and historic ties, and Tehran's influence over its neighbor is growing. Iran will likely try to use Iraq as a battleground if the U.S. punishes Tehran economically or militarily, analysts say. Many key positions in the Iraqi government now are occupied by men who took refuge in Iran to avoid oppression by Saddam's Baathist regime. Iraq's powerful militias, meanwhile, have strong ties to Iran and have deeply infiltrated Iraqi security forces. They can be expected to side with Iran if the West should attack, said Paul Ingram of the British American Security Information Council.

2006-04-30 00:00:00

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