An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Ninth Gulf Research Meeting (GRM), July 31-August 3, 2018, which was organized by the Gulf Research Center Cambridge at the University of Cambridge.
After more than a decade of active animosity, relations between Iraq and certain GCC member states have been warming up. However, Iran will resist an inter-Arab rapprochement at the expense of its own interest. Tehran has invested heavily in the coming to power of a friendly Iraqi Shiite administration. Isolated in the Middle East and facing active hostility from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Iran will do everything it can to sabotage normalization between Iraq and its Arab neighbors. It is a zero-sum game in which any gain by Saudi Arabia and its allies is a loss for Tehran.
What is Baghdad's room for maneuver in this context of regional intrigues? How can it maintain normal relations with its neighbors to the south without affronting Iran and incurring its wrath or at least its meddling? As an old civilization and a modern state whose project remains unfinished, Iraq in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries had a tumultuous history. Shaped by the colonial order that defeated the Ottoman Empire in the Great War (1914-18), the fate of Iraq was sealed with the Sykes-Picot agreement (1916), which "established artificial borders which failed to reflect the demographic, cultural and social identity of the varied communities that had lived for centuries under Ottoman suzerainty."1
Since the 1920s, the territory that would later become Iraq has suffered political and military disorder and repression, resulting in thousands of deaths.2 Although the domination of foreign powers — especially the British and later the Americans — lasted for decades, the Arab character of Iraq has never been questioned. But, with the exception of the years following the U.S. invasion in March 2003, the Iraqi government has always been controlled by the Sunni sect. The invasion ended Sunni rule over Iraq's politico-military apparatus and handed power to the Shia majority, which had been excluded from power. This change of regime plunged Iraq into chaos and a civil war, spawning al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and waves of terrorist attacks. Change has also propagated dissent among Shia groups and the intervention of regional powers in Iraq's internal affairs.
IRAN'S ROLE IN IRAQ
The most valuable lesson that Iran learned from the eight years of war with Iraq and Saddam Hussein is never to allow the emergence of a strong country on its western border. Tehran needs a weak and friendly Iraq, a kind of backyard. To achieve this objective, Iran apparently intends to consolidate and deepen its influence in Iraq by intervening in its political, economic and security affairs.
Iraqi Shia, Iraqi Kurds
Iran has direct and significant influence over two of Iraq's four major political groups — the Shia and the Kurds — and uses its leverage when necessary. There are several Shia and Kurdish parties in which Iran has invested significant money and resources.3 Iranian influence is more evident in the military arena. The Qods Force, a special branch of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), responsible for extraterritorial operations, has created Shia Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Iraq (al-Hashd al-Shaabi) and Syria. They have received arms, training and financing from Tehran and are used in proxy wars that the Qods Force is waging in the region. This paramilitary militia has been created on the model of the Bassij,4 a multipurpose militia attached to the IRGC land force, numbering in the thousands, and often called out into the streets at times of crisis to control neighborhoods and repress groups hostile to the Islamic regime. The Qods Forces, numbering in the tens of thousands of Iraqi Shia, confronts the helpless and anxious Sunnis. While not all PMF units have Shia fighters or are under the influence of the Qods, it uses many PMF units to promote an Islamic system for Iraq and the full authority of Iran's Khamenei, whom they consider the leader of the Islamic world.5
Despite Iran's influence over major armed groups in Iraq, Muqtada Sadr and his paramilitary Saraya al Salam (Peace Brigades), are the only Shia forces that have escaped the control of the Iranian leader. For the May 2018 elections, Sadr adopted a bolder strategy, not based on cooperation with pro-Iran militias. He even called on the government to prevent PMF leaders from running in the election. To inject "new blood" into politics, he banned all incumbents in his party from running again. Sadr instead allied with the Iraqi Communist Party, a risky move given his religious base; it may have further jeopardized his relationship with Tehran. "We will not allow liberals and communists to govern in Iraq," Ali Akbar Velayati, the supreme leader's top adviser for foreign policy, warned in February during a trip to Baghdad."6
The Kurds are as divided as Shia when it comes to their relations with Iran and the role it plays in Iraq. Unlike the Shia community, which has become the de facto ruling power in Iraq since 2003, the Kurds remain the eternal losers of the political and geostrategic game in the Middle East. While the Shias have benefited, by default, from the strategic support of outside powers and the Islamic Republic of Iran, especially that of the United States since 1991, support to the Kurds is circumstantial and tactical.
Iran's relationship with the Kurds goes back to the 1970s, when Mohammad-Reza Shah of Iran supported the national claims of the Iraqi Kurds led by Mostafa Barzani. He could exploit the Kurds as an instrument to get concessions from the Baathist regime in Baghdad. The late shah had two major concerns with the Iraqi regime. The first was related to Iraq's active support for a secessionist movement in the province of Khuzestan, which Baghdad's pan-Arabists used to call Arabestan. The second issue involved Iraq's claim over the border at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Iraq wanted the borderline drawn to the eastern shore of the Shatt al-Arab/Arvand Rood on the Iranian coast. Iran's support for Kurdish Iraqis was a tactical measure to force Baghdad to stop its interference in Khuzestan. Iranian military might and the Cold War context forced Iraq to concede on both issues.
The Algiers agreement7 was signed by the shah of Iran and Iraq's vice president, Saddam Hussein, on March 6, 1975, during the meeting of the Organization Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) in Algeria. It addressed the border issue at the expense of Iraq's Kurds and their cause. Iraq accepted Tehran's formula for demarcating their southern river boundary according to the Thalweg rule (center of the navigable channel) despite its previous claim that the border should be set along the Iranian shore of the Shatt al-Arab. It obligates the signing states to exercise tighter border control and prevent the infiltration of subversives. This provision was to accommodate Iraq, but it also benefited Iran: Baghdad stopped claiming Khuzestan and supporting Baluchi political aspirations in the Iran's southeast province.
As soon as the Algiers Agreement was signed to Iran's complete satisfaction, Tehran stopped helping the Kurds and abandoned their historical national and political claims. Alone and more vulnerable than ever before, Kurdish leaders had no choice but to abandon the armed struggle against the regime in Baghdad. This development and the measures that followed led to the departure of 100,000 Kurds — fighters, their families and others — into exile in Iran to join the 100,000 Kurdish refugees already there. Thousands of others had to surrender to Iraqi forces.8
Manipulation of the Kurdish question and meddling in intra-Kurdish issues has continued, with more intensity, by the Islamic Republic over the past few decades. Two guerrilla factions (political parties) dominate life in Iraqi Kurdistan: the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), under the rule of the Barzani family, and its junior rival, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), formed in July 1975 in Damascus by a group of disillusioned KDP fighters, led by Jalal Talabani, after the defeat of the KDP and the signing of the Algiers accord. Before and since the revolution in Iran, the PUK has had warmer relations with Iran, providing them a base from which to fight the Iraqis. The KDP, despite its "decades old antipathy toward Iran," was more prudent in managing its regional relations and tried to avoid open confrontation with Baghdad or Tehran. These divergent approaches resulted in bloody clashes between the two groups.
The Kurdish question, like that of the Palestinians, cannot escape the interference of hegemonic powers in the region. Recently, during the Kurdish civil war of the 1990s, Iran sided with the PUK, while the KDP asked Turkey for support. In the absence of a stable government in Baghdad to resolve its internal disputes, Kurdish groups continue to be dependent on neighbouring states for survival. By playing a proxy role, Iraqi Kurds put themselves in an untenable situation, betraying the broader Kurdish aspiration for independence, if not autonomy. The KDP's war against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on behalf of the Turkish government9 is only one example of an intra-Kurdish dynamic produced by regional Realpolitik. Balancing one group against the other is an important component of both Turks' and Iranians' regional strategy. Despite their volatile relations, both Tehran and Ankara keep their competition and low-level proxy clashes in Iraqi Kurdistan under tight control to avoid direct and open conflict involving themselves. As both countries participate in various military actions in the region, they cannot allow a slip-up in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Since Iran's security and the consolidation of its regional dominance play out, at least partially, in Iraq, the KRG has become the center of Tehran's attention. Iran is not interested in the emergence of a unified and powerful Kurdish entity that might defy its authority at a time of high tension in the region. Tehran is worried about the growing diplomatic relations between the KRG and the Gulf Arab states. Masoud Barzani, the KRG president, and that several Kurdish organizations, delegations and religious personalities made a visit to Saudi Arabia, in December 2015.
The expansion of such activities irritates the Iranian government, especially the Revolutionary Guards, who have threatened the KDP and KRG with harsh punishment. They are accused of helping the fighters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) in military attacks on the IRGC positions inside Iran. Tehran's attacks on KDPI forces, with Baghdad's complacency, are very frequent. On September 8, 2018, the KDPI acknowledged an IRGC missile attack on their headquarters in Koysinjaq that killed 11 and wounded 30 of its members.10
On September 25, 2017, the KRG organized an independence referendum in territories under its control. As expected, the vast majority of Kurds voted in favor, but Iran, Turkey and Iraq's central governments have vehemently rejected the result. Masoud Barzani and the Kurdish cause will pay a high price for this grave mistake. It is very difficult to understand his rationale for such a miscalculation. Neither Iraqi internal dynamics, nor the external context could accept Kurdish independence.
Iran's interference in the referendum was orchestrated by the commander of the Quds Force, Major General Qassim Soleimani. The Iranian Fars News Agency, a pro-IRGC outlet, cited the KRG representative in Tehran, Nazim Dabagh, revealing that Soleimani had several private meetings with Masoud Barzani and other Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq. He warned them not to hold an independence referendum, because all powers would stand united against the Iraqi Kurdistan region. Soleimani told his interlocutors that Tehran wants the Iraqi Kurds' achievements to be maintained within the framework of the Iraqi constitution.11
Iran's increasingly aggressive and activist policies in the Middle East are a great concern for the regional governments and most of the international community. Most Sunni countries in the region, especially those in the Persian Gulf, try as best they can to contain Tehran's "expansionist ambitions" in the region. Iran believes that Masoud Barzani is "part of the Saudi anti-Iran coalition" and being used as a tool to destabilize Iran and undermine its interests.12
Iran's heavy involvement in aborting the KRG's independence bid is motivated by five purely realist considerations, a Machiavellian strategy to prevent the breakup of the Islamic republic, of which the Kurdish issue is a vital part. The first is to change the balance of power in Iraqi Kurdistan and intra-Kurdish disputes in favor of its own ally/proxy, the PUK. The second is related to the Israeli threat. Tel Aviv has developed its relations with the KRG, over decades, mainly through economic activities, and has become a neighbour to Iran. This proximity and Israel's good relations with the Republic of Azerbaijan, on Iran's northern border, has been a source of serious apprehension in Tehran.13 Iran's third consideration is related to the growing influence of Turkey and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the KRG and its effect on the regional balance of power. Fourth, by intervening against the Kurds, Iran asserts itself as a balancing power and reliable anchor of stability that can be trusted by the weak and dependent governments in Baghdad and Damascus. Iran imposes itself as the guarantor of Shia domination and the referee in Iraq's internal political game. If alliances in Iraq and in the region change and Baghdad were to become more "Arab" than "Shia," Iran could play the Kurdish card to keep potential Shia dissidents under control. The most important issue here is to deter any attempt to bring Saudis and Iraqis closer at the expense of Iranian interests. Finally, the territorial integrity of Iran would be in danger if Iraqi Kurdistan became independent. Iran, which represses the ethnic and national aspirations of its minorities, including the Kurds, cannot allow the emergence of an independent Kurdish political entity that the other minorities in the region might emulate, including the Iranian Kurds.
WHAT FUTURE FOR THE NEW IRAQ?
There is no doubt that the defeat of Saddam Hussein and the destruction of Iraq's military and security apparatus and state institutions as well as the country's infrastructure have benefited Iran. The Americans, the most formidable enemy of the Islamic Republic, eliminated their neighboring foe. Washington succeeded where Tehran failed, after eight years of war. The removal of a Sunni regime in the very heart of the Middle East has weakened other Sunni states in the region, strengthening what King Abdullah of Jordan once called the "Shia Crescent." In December 2004, he predicted the danger of a split in the Arab world as a result of a Shia expansion in the traditional heartland of Sunni dominion.14
A fierce competition for influence in Iraq has opened between Iran and the U.S.-Saudi alliance. Each camp has its strengths and weaknesses. Beyond the economic and financial considerations, which are not negligible for a country in dire need, it is necessary to see what the determining factor will be: sectarian identity and religious affinity or ethnic affiliation. Apart from these endogenous determinants, one should not underestimate the force of sectarianism, the major factor in Iraq's ability to navigate the Iran-Saudi rivalry.
Baghdad's political leadership has to make very difficult choices in 2019 which, each carrying serious consequences and implications for the future of Iraq, "lies on the faultline between Shia Iran and the Sunni-ruled Arab Gulf monarchies."15 The first problem is related to the nature of Iraq's relations with neighboring countries. This problem runs the risk of further mortgaging its future in the region. Should Iraq look to the Sunni Arab kingdoms in the south, or to the Shia country in the east? Is Iraq condemned to choose one of the two opposing camps, or will it be able to emulate the Omani model — opting for a foreign policy driven by active neutrality and non-interference in other countries' internal affairs? Is this nonalignment option (negative equilibrium) possible in a regional context dominated by the logic of the Cold War and the zero-sum game?
Iran has heavily invested in Iraq both before and since 2003. Tehran had sheltered, financed and trained thousands of Iraqi Shia paramilitary forces and their leaders for more than 20 years of their war against the Baathist regime in Baghdad. Those groups and individuals are now the militia and politicians playing major roles in Iraq. Iran also has strategic and financial investments there. It has injected enormous amounts of money in Iraq's frail economy, and millions of Iranian pilgrims visit the Shia holy sites in Iraq and spend millions of dollars in its economy.
Tehran's unchecked spending in Iraq and other Arab countries at a time when the Iranian people are suffering economically has made the IRI vulnerable to the anger of its citizens, who denounce the state's priorities,16 and the looming specter of the "strongest sanctions in history" by the American administration.17 Iran's isolation in the region could weaken its pressure on Iraq. It seems that the charm campaign started by Prince Muhammed Bin Salman (MBS) to bring Iraq back into the Arab fold is making some progress. Former Iraqi prime minister Haider Al-Abadi — who didn't "want to be part of any axis" — visited Riyadh on June 19, 2017, "to promote reconciliation between the Sunni Muslim kingdom and majority Shia Iraq and also to help heal the deep and bitter divisions between Iraq's Shia and its Sunni Muslim minority."18
On July 31, 2017, Moqtatda al-Sadr, a friend of Iran turned foe, was invited by Crown Prince MBS to visit Saudi Arabia and discuss common interests. By responding positively to the Saudi invitation, it appears that Sadr has chosen his side, privileging ethnicity over religious sectarianism. This change of heart is a significant rejection of the regime in Tehran and a welcome development for the sworn rival to the Al Saud family. Al Jazeera has reported that the two leaders "agreed to set up a coordination council to upgrade [their] strategic ties as part of an attempt to heal troubled relations between the Arab neighbours."19
The promise of an Iraqi return to the Arab fold has not gone unnoticed in Tehran or even in Baghdad, where the IRI has its own powerful clients. There is no doubt that Iran and the Saudi Kingdom can influence the course of events in Iraq to a certain degree. However, the situation remains volatile and this influence is unbalanced; it leans slightly in favor of Iran right now.
In the absence of an Iran-Saudi reconciliation in the foreseeable future, Iraq would be condemned to play the role of buffer zone between its large neighbors. By avoiding an active alliance with one neighboring country, Iraq can enjoy the largesse of both. Baghdad needs Saudi financial assistance for its reconstruction efforts and Iran's complicity for its security, territorial integrity and the visits by Iranian pilgrims, who spend large sums of money at Shia holy sites in Iraq. Iran also plays a crucial role in controlling the separatist aspirations of Iraqi Kurds.
Despite the vagaries of the Middle East, especially in the Persian Gulf, there is one certainty: alliances are volatile and in constant flux, deconstructed as fast as they are made. It is for this reason that Iran has established relations with all ethno-religious groups in Iraq except the Sunni Arabs. Tehran can play the Shia card against the Kurds and Sunni Arabs, but also that of the Kurds against the Shia if necessary. Khomeini and his successor, Khamenei, have repeatedly said that the protection of the Islamic regime is their most important responsibility, if it is in danger, the principles of Islam should be suspended. From this angle, sacrificing Shia or Iraqi Kurds to advance the cause of the regime is a price to pay, if necessary. This approach is based on the principle of maslahah20 (expediency), inspired by the Shia notion of taqiyya (dissimulation).21
Iraq is the centerpiece of Iran's political and military game. It is the first battleground, providing the Islamic Republic operational military opportunity to assert regional hegemony. Because Iraq is so vital for Tehran, and as Qassim Soleimani, commander of the Qods Force (QF), enjoys the supreme leader's absolute confidence and answers to him alone, Iranian ambassadors to Iraq since 2003 have all been QF officers and advisers to Soleimani. They control Iranian policy in Iraq,22 not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the government.
In spite of Iran's substantial expenditures in Iraq, including millions of dollars of donations under the guise of refurbishing Shia holy shrines, relations between the two countries are not always smooth. One area of discomfort, and even open hostility, is related to electricity and water. Iran goes through long periods of drought due to lack of precipitation. Power cuts in some areas, including Tehran in summer 2018, forced the Iranian government to cut electricity supplies to the southern regions of Iraq in order to contain unrest at home. The cut resulted in massive protests in the southern city of Basra where protesters demanded jobs and basic public services. Calls for electricity and clean water quickly became political, resulting in the sacking of Iraq's minister of electricity and playing a role in the downfall of Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi, the favorite of the United States. The protesters also set fire to the Iranian consulate in Basra and called for an end to Iran's influence and to the Iraqi government's dysfunction.23 As Iran goes through a gradual marginalization and isolation in Syria, it will be forced to revaluate its grandiose regional ambitions. In this new and challenging geostrategic environment, Iraq will become even more crucial for Tehran to lessen the international pressure. The Islamic Republic will try to vigorously promote its sectarian political ideology in order to remain relevant.
THE WAY AHEAD
In the first week of October 2018, the Iraqi political class elected a Kurd, Barham Salih, as president. He, in turn, named the Shia Adel Abdul Mahdi as the new prime minister. Despite the high tensions between the United States and Iran, both countries congratulated the new leadership installed in Baghdad. Salih lived for years in the United States and has excellent relations with the Americans. Abdul Mahdi lived in exile in France for a few decades and was previously a member of the Shia Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. He is a technocrat with close ties with both the United States and Iran. Iraq is expected to remain a political battleground in the escalating contest between Washington and Riyadh, on the one hand, and Tehran on the other.24
The degree of influence by belligerents in Iraq depends on the number of distractions they have to deal with. Iran gains in Iraq every time the American administration attacks its allies or the Saudis make tactical or strategic mistakes. The erratic policies of Washington and Riyadh create opportunities for Iran. Tehran's ability to focus on its regionally gained influence is severely threatened by American sanctions and the "revolt of the hungry" in Iran. The new strategic environment created by the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and Iran-Saudi proxy conflicts and the gradual U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East introduces a new regional reconfiguration. At the subregional level, Iran will continue to deploy all its efforts and resources to maintain its hegemonic posture and prevent an Iraq-Saudi rapprochement that might jeopardize its security.
1 Harvey Morris, "Sykes-Picot, The Centenary of a Deal That Did Not Shape the Middle East," May 13, 2016, http://time.com/4327377/sykes-picot-the-centenary-of-a-deal-that-did-no….
2 For a timeline of key events in Iraqi history and class struggle in the 20th century see: "1900-2000: Iraq Timeline," accessed May 21, 2018, https://libcom.org/history/1900-2000-iraq-timeline.
3 For an account of Iran's role in Iraqi Kurdistan, see Mohammad Salih Mustafa, "Iran's Role in the Kurdistan Region," Al Jazeera, April 20, 2016, http://studies.aljazeera.net/en/reports/2016/04/160420105055207.html.
4 For a contextual analysis of the creation of the Bassij, its evolution and its role in maintaining the IRI, see Saeid Golkar, Captive Society: The Basij Militia and Social Control in Iran (Woodrow Wilson Center Press, Columbia University, 2015).
5 Garrett Nada and Mattisan Rowan. "The Islamists Part 2: Pro-Iran Militias in Iraq," Wilson Center, April 27, 2018, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/part-2-pro-iran-militias-iraq.
7 The text of this agreement can be seen here: Treaty Concerning The State Frontier and Neighbourly Relations Between Iran and Iraq, United Nations Treaty Series, accessed on June 20, 2018, https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%201017/volume-1017-….
8 David McDowall, A Modern History of The Kurds (I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, 2004): 338.
9 For an analysis of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)-Ankara relations, see Ranj Alaaldin, "Turkey-KRG Alliance Works, for now," Brookings Institution, November 8, 2016, https://www.brookings.edu/articles/why-the-turkey-krg-alliance-works-fo….
10 "Iran's Revolutionary Guards Confirm Deadly Missile Strikes on Kurdish Rebels In Iraq," Rfel, September 9, 2018, accessed on September 18, 2018, https://www.rferl.org/a/at-least-11-iranian-kurdish-fighters-killed-in-….
11 "KRG Official: Kurds Warned by General Suleimani of Consequences of Referendum," Fars News Agency, October 29, 2017, http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960807001609.
12 Othman Ali, "Iran and Barzani: Worsening Relations and the Risk of an Inevitable Clash?" Orsam Review of Regional Affairs no. 58, January 2017, http://www.orsam.org.tr/files/Degerlendirmeler/58/58eng.pdf.
13 Thomas Grove, "Insight: Azerbaijan Eyes Aiding Israel against Iran," Reuters, October 1, 2012, https://www.reuters.com/ article/us-iran-israel-azerbaijan-idUSBRE88T05L20121001.
14 Robin Wright and Peter Baker, "Iraq, Jordan See Threat to Election from Iran. Leaders Warn Against Forming Religious State," Washington Post, December 8, 2004, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/ A43980-2004Dec7.html?noredirect=on. He coined the phrase in late 2004 to describe a space "that went from Damascus to Tehran, passing through Baghdad, where a Shia-dominated government had taken power and was dictating a sectarian brand of politics that was radiating outwards from Iraq across the whole region."; Ian Black, "Fear of a Shia Full Moon," The Guardian, January 26, 2007.
15 "Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr Makes Rare Saudi Visit," Al Jazeera, July 31, 2017 (accessed on May 27, 2018), https://www.aljazeera.com/news/ 2017/07/iraq-muqtada-al-sadr-rare-saudi-visit-170731073908238.html.
16 "Iran : le bilan officiel des manifestations monte à 25 morts," Le Monde and AFP, January 14, 2018, https://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2018/01/14/iran-le-bilan-o… _5241514_3218.html. The social unrest that has characterized Iranian society for twenty years has intensified in recent years. The truck drivers' strike in May and June 2018 is the most recent crisis shaking the pillars of the Iranian government. See: "Iranian Truckers' Strike Gains International Support," RadioFarda, https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-traucker-strike-international-support/….
17 Louis Nelson. "Pompeo Threatens Iran with 'Strongest Sanctions in History,'" Politico, January 21, 2018, https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/21/mike-pompeo-iran-sanctions-60….
18 "Iraqi PM Abadi Heads to Saudi Arabia at Start of MidEast Tour," Reuters, June 19, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-saudi/iraqi-pm-a….
19 "Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr Makes Rare Saudi Visit," Al Jazeera, July 31, 2017, accessed on 27 May 2018, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/ 2017/07/iraq-muqtada-al-sadr-rare-saudi-visit-170731073908238.html.
20Oxford Dictionary of Islam, ed. John L. Esposito, (2018) s.v. "Maslahah," (accessed via Oxford Islamic Studies Online on June 27, 2018) http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/print/opr/t125/e1459. The Oxford Dictionary of Islam provides the following definition: "Public interest; a basis of law. According to necessity and particular circumstances, it consists of prohibiting or permitting something on the basis of whether or not it serves the public's benefit or welfare. The concept of public interest can be very helpful in cases not regulated by the Quran, Sunnah, or qiyas (analogy). Here, equitable considerations can override the results of strict analogy, taking into account the public's welfare."
21 "Al-Taqiyya, Dissimulation Part 1," Al-Islam.org, accessed on June 27, 2018, https://www.al-islam.org/shiite-encyclopedia-ahlul-bayt-dilp-team/al-ta…. In Arabic, Taqiyya means: "Concealing or disguising one's beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, and/or strategies at a time of eminent danger, whether now or later in time, to save oneself from physical and/or mental injury (…) Dissimulation."
22 Amir Toumaj, "Qods Force Commander to Advance Tehran's Influence as Ambassador to Iraq," Foundation for Defense of Democracies, April 23, 2017, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/04/qods-force-commander-to…. Iran ambassadors to Iraq since 2003: Ali Reza Haqiqian, Consul-General; Hassan Kazemi-Qomi (December 2003-May 2005, Chargé d'affaires, 2005-2010 elevated ambassador); Hassan Danaeifar, (2010-2017); Iraj Masjedi, Qods Force Commander Brigadier General (since March 2017).
23 Tamer El-Ghobashy and Mustafa Salim. "Chanting 'Iran, Out!' Iraqi Protesters Torch Iranian Consulate in Basra," The Washington Post, September 7, 2018.
24 Zaid Sabah. "Iraq's Abdul Mahdi Named as Premier Amid U.S.-Iran Tensions," Bloomberg, October 2, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-02/iraq-s-abdul-mahdi-n…; Fazel Hawramy. "Iraq's New President Taps Adel Abdul Mahdi to Form Government," Al-Monitor, October 3, 2018, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/10/iraq-president-parli….
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