Iran's Push for Influence Meets Resistance in Iraq and Syria

(Wall Street Journal) Sune Engel Rasmussen and Isabel Coles - Iran's widening influence in the Middle East faces growing resistance from within its close regional allies, Syria and Iraq. In Iraq, discontent among the country's Shiite Muslim community with Iranian influence was reflected in cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's victory in this month's election. Sadr is a fierce nationalist whose supporters sometimes chant slogans criticizing Iran. In Syria, Russia has showed impatience with Iran's growing military presence. The Syrian government has sought to limit Iran's reach beyond the military sphere, reneging on preliminary agreements giving Iran rights to phosphate mining and mobile phone networks. In Syria, "Iran has a sense of entitlement, having spent so much money, energy and lives, and it is now seeking to cash in its chips," said Jubin Goodarzi, an associate professor at the Geneva campus of Webster University. If the pressure continues, Iran may have to cut its losses, he said. In Syria, "if they need to, they will downsize. But in Iraq, they'll make sure there is no setback."

2018-05-25 00:00:00

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