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With nearly all of Iraq’s political forces lined up against Iran in 2018, it looks likely that the pro-Iranians will be trounced at the ballot.
And yet it looks just as likely that this will have little effect on Iran’s influence in Iraq.
Since 2003, Ayatollah Sistani and the religious establishment have largely failed to control the worst tendencies in Iraqi politics. Zaid al-Ali was a legal adviser to the United Nations in Iraq from 2005 to 2010, and is the author of “The struggle for Iraq’s future: how corruption, incompetence and sectarianism have undermined democracy”.
Against this backdrop, there remains one wild card that could present a real challenge to Iranian domination: intervention by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s Shia spiritual leader.
In 2014, Ayatollah Sistani issued a fatwa that called for Iraqis to defend the country against the Islamic State.
Like every government formed since the invasion in 2003, the next one will be made up of parties pulling the country in different directions.
It is a recipe for inaction – and Iran will prey on this.