As we’ve reported in the last two weeks, Tehran has been making fervent attempts to woo Europe since signing a nuclear deal in Geneva in November, making gains on both the economic and political fronts.
Back in the Middle East, however, things aren’t as clear-cut; rather than publishing op-eds in leading newspapers and meeting with parliamentarians, as it has done with Europe, Iran has been exerting its influence in the region in more underhanded – not to mention destructive — ways.
Though the press has to a large extent turned a blind eye on Iran’s less agreeable activities of late, they haven’t escaped everyone’s notice: for example, David Ignatius of The Washington Post devoted an entire op-ed last week to Iran’s activities in Iraq, which have both exacerbated sectarian tensions and empowered al-Qaeda in the war-torn country, after its presence was crushed by the US military.
According to Ignatius, Iran’s alliance with Iraq’s US-backed Shi’ite government has undermined the gains made by Washington against al-Qaeda in the years following its invasion of the country. It has also led to radicalization among Iraqi Sunnis whose concern that their country is in cahoots with Tehran — with which Baghdad fought a drawn-out war in the 80s — has led them to turn back towards sectarianism in the aftermath of the US pullout.
Meanwhile in Syria, Iraqi militias under Iran’s “covert direction” were being sent to join the ongoing civil conflict and fight against Sunni rebel groups.
The conclusion, according to Ignatius? Iran is “playing the Iraqi game” with great acumen. Apropos, perhaps the media would like to take an interest in which other games the Islamic republic is winning at under the radar.
Or perhaps it should just continue basking in the Geneva deal rays…