There is a general belief that the road to the next Iraqi parliament goes through Tehran, and it isn’t hard to see why. As a Shi’ite religious government Iran retains considerable influence over several major Shi’ite religious parties in neighboring Iraq, and some of the major power brokers, including INA leader Moqtada al-Sadr, are living in Iran to this day.
But Iran’s position on the next government seems to be changing. Once firmly advocating a Shi’ite religiously dominated government (a narrow majority which would cut the Sunni-powered Iraqiya out), a flurry of high profile visits by Iraqiya members has netted an official Iran statement backing “inclusive” government.
In the weeks leading up to Iraq’s election the Iranian government seemed firmly opposed to Iraqiya, with Iran’s state media repeatedly running claims that Iraqiya was the “new Ba’athist” party and the US was plotting to install the secularist party as a precursor to invading Iran.
These repeated claims were likely part of the reason why Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi today made an official security guarantee to Iran, promising that if he was in the government he would never allow Iraq to be used as a launching pad for an invasion of its neighbor. Not long after, Iran gave its apparent backing to Iraqiya’s inclusion in the government.
It couldn’t have come at a better time for the Iraqiya bloc. Reports have been swirling out of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law bloc that they were close to forming a partnership with the INA on a Shi’ite dominated government. Though it is unclear how much effect Iran’s comments will have, it must certainly be an issue as those secret talks continue.