April 13, 2021

IntelBrief: The Scramble for Iraq Heats Up

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center right, and his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein, center left (Iranian Foreign Ministry via AP)

Bottom Line Up Front

  • The United States and Arab partners are competing with Iran to exercise preponderant control over Iraqi government decision-making. 
  • A joint U.S.-Iraq statement on the U.S. military presence highlights the pressure Tehran is exerting on Iraq’s government to limit U.S. influence. 
  • Within Iraq, militias backed by Iran remain powerful actors but are losing public support over their widespread abuses of the population.  
  • Several U.S. allies have renewed efforts to exert influence in Iraq to help counter Iranian influence, but prospects for success remain uncertain.