Muqtada al-Sadr in Riyadh

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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Iran’s domination over everything in Iraq from controlling commerce, construction and supply of bad products to controlling banks, the government, the parliament and political parties can be clearly seen. A New York Times report described the situation by stating that Iran controls everything in Iraq from television stations to selling drugs.

Iran is trying to justify its presence in Iraq and control of it by claiming that the latter needs it and that without it, Iraq will collapse. It claims it liberated Mosul from ISIS but this is not true. The Iraqi army forces, supported by the US, were the ones who mainly fought in the battle.

Tehran has been working on establishing its influence and Iraq for 14 years now until it’s become a headquarters which most Iraqi politicians, whether Sunni Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds, visit to attain its commanders’ support – just like Lebanese politicians used to seek the support of the president in Damascus.


Amid this Iranian domination, Sayyed Muqtada al-Sadr, who is one of the most influential figures in the Iraqi arena, made a brave visit to Saudi Arabia. His visit confirmed his statements rejecting Iranian domination and insisting on the independence of Iraq’s decision-making. It also reflects his defiance of politicians such as Nouri al-Maliki, the current vice president who was a former prime minister and actually the worst prime minister throughout the entire history of Iraq.

It is in the interest of the region, including GCC countries, to support Iraq’s independence and make the Iraqis feel that they are not alone

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Rejecting good relations

Sadr’s and some Iraqi commanders’ stance is not based on rejecting good relations with their neighbor, Iran, but on rejecting its domination. They are against Tehran’s seizure of resources and authorities in the country and against shifting water flow of rivers on the borders and drilling in neighboring oil zones.

They are against using Iraqi banks and companies as a secret market for internationally-prohibited Iranian transactions and against establishing and encouraging the activity of Iraqi militias that operate outside the state’s control.

They are against the Revolutionary Guards’ interferences in the government and parliament and in appointing governors and heads of municipalities, managing state media and pursuing private media outlets. Iraq is a big country and it’s not a banana republic for the extremist security and religious regime of Tehran which the latter can financially drain to fund its military adventures in Syria, Lebanon and other countries.

Iraq under the domination of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards is a poor country by all standards, and this is not due to the country’s lack of financial resources but due to the increasing corruption in Iraqi institutions and due to Iran’s theft of its resources.

The dissociation policy

It’s in the interest of the region’s countries, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, to support Iraq’s independence and make the Iraqis feel that they are not alone. I reiterate my opinion that the Gulf’s dissociation policy was a wrong policy that made it easy for the Iranians to interfere and expand and that viewing Iraq as a sectarian component is a misrepresentation of the political facts and it reflects a lack of understanding of the dynamics of politics and the society there.

Before Sayyed Muqtada Sadr paid his visit, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi visited Riyadh, which opened its closed doors marking a positive political shift that’s significant for the northern neighbor.

It’s normal to ask though: Can the Iraqis confront Iran which is fiercely tightening its control over Syria where it’s not taking notice of the massacres it committed along with its militias? Saving Iraq is the task of Iraqi nationalists despite their different affiliations. It’s the duty of the region’s countries to take a clear stance against the domination of Iranian institutions, such as the domination of the Iranian Quds Brigade over Iraqi state institutions and political parties.

Iraq is a rich country and it does not lack major resources like Yemen and Syria. It’s capable of restoring its powers once Iraqi national leaders raise their voice and speak out against Iran and against any other power. The Iraqis need the entire world to hear them say that they will fight Iranian domination and expel the Revolutionary Guards from their country. This is the Iraqis’ project and not the project of Gulf countries, Arabs or others.

This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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