Turkey’s state news agency finds Iran the biggest obstacle to Iraq’s stability

Turkey’s state-run news agency published an opinion piece on Monday claiming that Iran is the biggest threat to Iraq’s stability.

The article describes the state-linked Popular Mobilization Forces – which Iran helped set up in the fight against the Islamic State group – as a means of bolstering Iran’s military presence as part of the a regional strategy also pursued in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

The author portrays Iran as directly interfering in Iraqi internal affairs for at least 20 years, not just through its relationship with militias but with missile attacks and influence elections. At the end of 2021, the Iraqi Supreme Court rejected calls from pro-Iranian Shiite parties against the results of a parliamentary ballot in which they performed poorly.

Iraq has been a battleground for influence between the US and Iran since the 2003 US invasion, who overthrew Saddam Hussein and paved the way to power for a Shia majority whose parties had been suppressed and had been based in Damascus or Tehran.

Turkey has long extended its influence in Iraq, particularly in the Kurdish-held north and among allied Turkmen groups.

The Turkish News Agency article described visits to Iraq by Esmail Ghaani, head of Iran’s extraterritorial Al-Quds Force, as an example of hampering Iran’s stability. He also mentioned the 2020 attack by rioters on the Baghdad office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Kurdish party closest to Ankara.

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