Foreign Policy Blogs

Iran + Iraq = Friends

What is so wrong about this equation? In the Western media, Iran’s influence in Iraq is mostly viewed as being inimical and harmful. After all, what good can come from a country bend on getting nuclear weapons and spreading its radical influence across the region? But there is something positive about the new Iran-Iraq relationship. As Kevin Sullivan points out in his blog for the Real Clear World, “the fact that these two countries – both, just a quarter of a century ago, having been engaged in arguably the nastiest, bloodiest war in modern Mideast history – have come this far would normally be the stuff of historical praise; something akin to Europe’s rise from warring rivals to peaceful partners.” He goes on to point out that “The problem with our thinking on Iranian influence in Iraq is we assume it to all be nefarious and cabal-esque, when in truth much of it is just geographic destiny. Iranian influence in Iraq is inevitable and – thanks in part to the United States – now expedited.”

Here are some figures from the Iran-Iraq war that lasted from 1980 till 1988 that can help illustrate why Iran’s influence in Iraq is inevitable:

  • The war claimed at least 300,000 Iranian lives and injured more than 500,000, out of a total population which by the war’s end was nearly 60 million. (Source: Iran Chamber Society)

Looking at these statistics, its no surprise that Iran is trying to influence Iraq. The cost of not having a good relationship with Iraq is just too high.



Sahar Zubairy

Sahar Zubairy recently graduated from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas- Austin with Masters in Global Policy Studies. She graduated from Texas A&M University with Phi Beta Kappa honors in May 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. In Summer 2008, she was the Southwest Asia/Gulf Intern at the Henry L. Stimson Center, where she researched Iran and the Persian Gulf. She was also a member of a research team that helped develop a website investigating the possible effects of closure of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf by Iran.