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Why some Iraqi Shiites are pushing for distance from Iran

Iraqi Shiites are dividing over their stance toward Iran, as the disagreement with Iran rose up among Shiites affiliated to Najaf.
Iraqi Shi'ite Muslims from Hashid Shaabi (Popular Mobilization) march along a street as they hold a giant Iraqi flag during a parade marking the annual al-Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Baghdad, Iraq July 1, 2016. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily - RTX2J7X3

NAJAF, Iraq — Iraq’s Shiites are witnessing a political-religious rift in their stance toward Iran whose development can be traced back to 2003. While some express complete loyalty to the Shiite political regime in Tehran, others object to its regional policies, including toward Iraq, and distance from it. 

In one example, the predominantly Shiite Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) held a military parade July 1 in Basra. They destroyed US and Israeli flags and burned photos of Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. The march sparked criticism and anger among some Shiites, because the United States has friendly relations with Iraq and is supporting its security forces in their war against the Islamic State (IS). Also, given the state competition in the region, hostility toward Saudi Arabia is not in Iraq’s interest.

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