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Iran Seeks To 'Project Regional Power' Using Its Influence in Iraq

Iraqi President Barham Salih (right) stands with Iranian President Hassan Rohani during a welcome ceremony at Salam Palace in Baghdad, March 11, 2019

The National Interest Online reported March 28 that Iran is trying to outmanoeuvre the United States in Iraq.

An article by Seth Franzman says that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's recent visit to Iraq was "meant to cement an Iran-Iraq alliance that is meant to project Iran’s power in the region after the defeat of the Islamic State."

The article said that ran is using its influence on Shiite parliamentary groups in Iraq to undermine US policy in the country.

In the meantime, Iraqi President Barham Salih has expressed concern that U.S. tensions with Iran are affecting Iraq, the article added.

Salih used the occasion of Rouhani's visit to remind once again that U.S. troops were in Iraq to help Iraqi army in the fight against ISIS. He made the comments after President Donald Trump said in December that the United States would “watch” Iran from Iraq.

The article said that Salih's comments "form part of a larger emerging pressure on the U.S. role in Iraq." Iran’s state-owned Press TV has stressed that "parliamentarians in Iraq are seeking to pressure U.S. troops to leave," reminding that Hadi al-Amiri, head of the second largest Iraqi political party, is a consistent critic of the U.S. role." Amiri "fought alongside the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the 1980s against Saddam Hussein’s regime and then came to oppose the U.S. presence after 2003," said the article.

According to the National Interests Online, there are more hardline critics of U.S. policy at the Iraqi Parliament and some of them have been sanctioned by U.S. Treasury in early March for acting on behalf of the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran's IRGC.