News / Middle East

Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PMi
X
August 18, 2014 11:42 PM
Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq.  But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria.

U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State militants have helped Iraqi troops recapture the country's biggest dam.  But driving those fighters back across the Syrian border will require a bigger push by the new government in Baghdad, says U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann.

"The U.S. has made very clear that it views this problem, the problem of ISIS, as centrally a problem of the central government in Iraq and not as a problem that the U.S. can solve," he said.

Meeting with Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says he must bring Iraqi Sunni, Shia and Kurds together against the militants.

"There is great hope connected with him that he will be the one who can unite the various regions and religions and can represent them all in his government," he said. "That is necessary because it is the only way to strip the terrorist group ISIS of the support of the many dissatisfied."

Sunni leaders considering whether to support the new government say there must be changes to Shia-dominant security forces before taking on Sunni militants.

Dulaimi Tribal Head Ali Hatem Suleiman says al-Abadi cannot begin by asking Sunni to fight the Islamic State.

"The Islamic State is not a big problem for us or the main issue that we suffer from," he said. "He has to purge first the security and intelligence apparatus."

And that involves Iran, which helped the previous government create that situation, and will continue to influence much of what happens in Iraq, says Steve Heydemann.

"It doesn't much matter to them which Shia is the prime minister in Iraq.  Iran will continue to wield influence in Iraq,' he said. "And on questions of broader regional policy, including Iraq's rather quiet, but nonetheless consistent, support of the Assad regime will continue."

Iran is not only backing Syria's government forces, it's using Syria to arm Hezbollah militants.

American University professor Guy Ziv says greater cooperation between Washington and Tehran may change that.

"There has been shipment after shipment -- many of them intercepted by Israel -- from Iran via Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon," he said. "And I think that one of the hopeful situations with the improved U.S./Iranian relationship is to perhaps break that axis."

But having a common enemy in the Islamic State will not bridge fundamental differences between Washington and Tehran, says former U.S. Ambassador Adam Ereli.

"If you look at any issue -- Hamas, Syria, Iraq, the nuclear file, human rights inside Iran -- there is a consistency of behavior and a consistency of policy that doesn't change," he said. "And it is a policy that is innately hostile to our interests and the interest of our allies."

Haider al-Abadi will need both Iran and the United States to effectively fight the Islamic State and convince Iraqi Sunni and Kurds to back his new government in Baghdad.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
August 18, 2014 9:02 PM
THE WISE MAN said it;.. The Shia Muslim tribes call to arms, and the Kurdish tribes call to arms, with the Yazidis, and other ethnic tribes, have united in their war against the (ISIL) al-Baghdadi Sunni Muslim army and the Iraqi Sunni Muslim tribes that voluntarily joined with him.....

The combined tribal forces of Shia, Kurds, Yazidis, and others, is more than enough to defeat the (ISIL) forces of Sunni Muslim army deserters, and Sunni Muslim tribes that voluntarily joined the (ISIL) al-Baghdadi army, (the bulk of them being foreign) Sunni Muslim ultra-extremists from all over the world, armed and trained by the US and NATO in Jordan and Turkey, to wage war on the Syrian Shia Muslim government.... (Trust the US to play both sides against the other)..

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs