The recent demands from the Obama Administration for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to cut cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s faction out of any government deal to punish Sadr for his opposition to the US occupation took a lot of people by surprised. But the bigger surprise might be the dismissive reaction from Iraqi officials.
“We don’t pay great attention to them,” inisted Sami al-Askari, one MP in Maliki’s faction. Another MP, Mahmoud Othman, insisted that the Iranian government had a much bigger role in Iraq than the Americans do.
Though 50,000 heavily armed troops are bound to give the US at least some sway, but seems to be decidedly on the decline and its efforts to “cut out” Sadr seem to be of little consequence, particularly with Iran following up the US comment with a call for Iraq to just get rid of the American occupation force instead.
Ironically the US responded to Iran’s comments with outrage, claiming it was improper for Iranian officials to “meddle” in the internal politics of Iraq. Yet this has been standard operating procedure for both sides since the 2003 invasion, and it is only now that the US and Iran aren’t supporting the exact same faction that officials are concerned. Concerned and likely more than a little irked that after seven years the Iranian government has more influence in Iraq than the American one does.
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