Iran Eclipses U.S. as Iraq's Ally in Fight Against Militants

(AP-Washington Post) In the eyes of most Iraqis, their country's best ally in the war against the Islamic State is Iran, not the U.S. and the coalition air campaign. Shiite, non-Arab Iran has effectively taken charge of Iraq's defense against the Sunni radical group, meeting the Iraqi government's need for immediate help on the ground. Two to three Iranian military aircraft a day land at Baghdad airport, bringing in weapons and ammunition. Iran's Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force and its commander Gen. Ghasem Soleimani are organizing Iraqi forces and have become the de facto leaders of Iraqi Shiite militias that are the backbone of the fight. The result is that Tehran's influence in Iraq, already high since U.S. forces left at the end of 2011, has grown to an unprecedented level. On billboards around Baghdad, death notices of Iraqi militiamen killed in battle are emblazoned with images of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, and his successor, Ayatollah Khamenei. Last month up to 4 million Iranians crossed into Iraq to visit a revered Shiite shrine south of Baghdad for a major holy day.

2015-01-12 00:00:00

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