As recent developments have made it crystal clear in Iraq, the Shiite coalition formed through the efforts of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force following the toppling of the former Iraqi government (Saddam Hussein) by the United States is now crumbling from within and literally torn apart. Demonstrations and rallies in the past few months, staged by the Shiite majorities in Baghdad and southern Shiite provinces, witnessed a main slogan against the presence of the Iranian regime and the Quds Force in Iraq. This came as a heavy blow for Tehran in its efforts in Iraq.
The Iranian regime’s main arm to gain influence and hegemony over the situation in Iraq, parallel to pursuing its own policy, was the Shiite coalition, blueprinted and crafted skillfully by the Quds Force and Tehran dictating their policies and roadmaps. One of the most important measures by Iran during this period in Iraq was determining the prime minister and appointing its puppet ministers to control the situation on the ground in Iraq. Individuals who lacked any qualification to serve as ministers or management roles, and were only appointed due to their die-hard allegiance to Iran. To this end Iran enjoyed the possibility of relying on its appointed agents and easily pursue its objectives in Iraq. This was also the main element behind all the grant and corruption in the Iraqi government.
During the Sadrists’ demonstrations in Baghdad and southern provinces the protesters were seen tearing and setting ablaze images of current and former Iranian supreme leaders Ali Khamenei and Khomeini, respectively, installed at the gates of Shiite parties’ offices. This was considered a very harsh insult for the Iranian regime and has disrupted all its calculations for Iraq.
To launch a restart for this situation, Iran must first reunite the torn apart Shiite coalition. In this regard Iran’s Supreme National Security Council appointed Iran’s ambassador to Iraq – himself a leading Quds Force member – as the man in charge of this effort: to bring new life to the Shiite coalition with new regulations and frameworks.
Danaie-Far, Iran’s ambassador in Baghdad, began his measures in mid-January and on Thursday, Jun 16th he invited the heads of all the pro-Iran Shiite groups for a Ramadan iftar (dinner). These invitations continued for 10 nights and all heads of Iraqi groups were invited in different nights. On the first night, Ibrahim Jafari as the chair of the National Alliance, Nouri al-Maliki as the main Iranian regime element in Iraq, Hamid Maale as the representative of Hakim, Interior Minister Mohamed Ghaban representing the Badr Organization (in for Hadi al-Ameri) and Hakem Zamoli and Jafar al-Mousawi from the Sadrists.
Iran’s ambassador to Iraq went to Tehran prior to these invitations and provided a status report on the Shiite National Alliance and the entire country of Iraq. He was then briefed on the new policy adopted by the Supreme National Security Council for Iraq and returned to his mission. The most important policy adopted in the SNSC meeting was to reunite the Shiites in Iraq under new regulations.
The main obstacle before the Shiite coalition is the Sadrists movement that in the past few months has under no circumstances been willing to carry out the orders and instructions issued by the Quds Force and the Iranian regime itself, and has adopted a completely Iraqi approach and policy. The Sadrists are also the main reason behind the Shiite coalition falling apart. During the past month the Iranian ambassador to Iraq visited the city of Najaf to meet with Muqtada Sadr, who refused to accept him. Once again during a meeting held between the ambassador and Sadr the situation became very tense, leading to harsh verbal exchanges and Sadr refused to succumb to Tehran’s demands. Sadr intends to form a new faction consisting of Shiites, Sunnis and civil organizations in the face of the pro-Iran Shiite coalition. If such an objective is successful, it will deliver a serious blow to Iran’s goals in Iraq.
Following the Ramadan dinner session Shiite groups held a session with the presence of the Iranian ambassador. All the groups were briefed by the ambassador and the Quds Force representative. Iran intends to carry out its own initiative and reunite the Shiites, all before Sadr forms a new coalition. In this session the Iranian ambassador instructed all Shiite groups that they must quickly get to work and clarify their position with Sadr. They sent a message to Sadr through his representative taking part in the session, Jafar al-Mousavi. Iran’s ambassador in this session emphasized on the following:
- reunited the National Alliance, consisting of Shiite groups
- specifying new regulations for the Alliance to prevent previous scenarios, such as the Sadrists pulling out of the group
- inviting Sadr and al-Abadi into the Alliance, and if they refuse they are to be banished from the Shiite community in Iraq
- Iraqi Foreign Ministry (Jafari was present in the session) to confront measures by the Saudi Ambassador in Baghdad, and controlling his movements
The groups began their measures the day after being briefed, and in this regard Nouri al-Maliki, chair of the State of Law coalition emphasized on differences and divides inside the National Alliance and made a call to return to the past status. Ibrahim Jafari said the National Alliance will not give up its continuous efforts to maintain its unity, yet cannot change its existing internal divides.
“The measures carried out by Thamer al-Sahan, the Saudi Ambassador in Iraq, are considered interference in Iraq’s internal affairs and what he is doing has nothing to do with his role as an ambassador,” Jafari said.
Iran is rallying with all its might to regain its influence, hegemony and control over the situation in Iraq. Will it be able to achieve this goal and pursue its policy against the U.S. is a question the future will answer.