Iran's Waning Influence on Iraq

(Washington Post) Ray Takeyh - Iran may have been able to project its influence in an Iraq beset by civil war, but Tehran increasingly is on the margins as Iraq reconstitutes its national institutions. Iran's governing template has no constituency among Iraqi Shiites. Iran's theocratic absolutism was always in contravention of Shiite political traditions, making its export problematic if not impossible. Iraq's most esteemed and influential cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, stands with mainstream clerics in rejecting the notion that proper Islamic governance mandates direct clerical assumption of power. Even the Iraqi Shiite parties which have long-standing ties to Tehran appreciate the untenable nature of the Iranian order. On the eve of the U.S. withdrawal, it may be difficult to see the extent to which Iran's policy in Iraq is in shambles. Iran's contentious vision for the future of Iraq and its divisive tactics have alienated Iraqis across the sectarian spectrum. The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

2011-11-04 00:00:00

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