Tehran, Iran — It would be an understatement to say that Iran does not have an interest in the Iraqi parliamentary elections held April 30, and far too simplistic to conclude that Tehran is backing the current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, for a third term. The Iran-Iraq relationship is a complex mosaic of history, politics, war, religion and, most critically, Iran’s strategic depth in dealing with the Syria civil war and its tensions with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an informed Iranian source told Al-Monitor that Iran’s perceptions of Iraq are influenced by the role of the United States in the region. He explained, “Enemies of Iran in the Middle East and around the world had the illusion that another chapter of the fall of Baghdad would be [written] in Tehran. Saddam’s falling statues in different cities around Iraq made an American victory [appear] eminent and ineluctable. In 2009, when the US army withdrew, things proved the opposite.” In other words, the early threats of isolation and being the next to be toppled morphed into an Iranian win.