The ongoing turmoil in Iraq with the large demonstrations, the burning of buildings of Iranian interest and some frictions between pro- Iranian and anti- Iranian Iraqis has caused anxiety to the surrounding and interested states.
The cautious Iran
The first country whose interests are in danger is Iran. The previous pro- Iranian, Shiite governments were serving Tehran by controlling the Western influence into the Asian state, by securing economic relations which were profitable for the Iranian economy and by having access to the rest of the Middle Eastern countries and the Mediterranean Sea. The ”Iraqi” route offered Iran the chance to transport soldiers to Syria. In addition, the supervision of the Shiite population and the oil fields was easy. Moreover, Iraq has a major role in the Shiite axis in the region.
From the above, it is obvious that Iran is affected badly by the situation in Iraq. The fall of the Shiite government and the anti- Iranian feelings amongst the population trigger the feeling of anxiety and worry to the Iranian authorities. Iran lost an important political battle and its influence is not as big as it was. Moreover, if this turmoil continues, it will be negative for the economy of the Persian country. Also, geopolitically in case an anti- Iranian leadership is established, Tehran will lose maybe the only direct way to Syria. A lot of Iranian troops are stationed on Syrian soil helping the Syrian Arab Army, while very often Iranian warplanes land at Syrian airports crossing the Iraqi airspace. Now, it is not sure whether this situation will continue.
However, nothing is final. Iran maintains its strategic position in Iraqi politics, it has influence into the Shiite Iraqis, it can mobilize several militias, it has very strong bilateral economic relations and numerous secret agents. The new government if it will be created, at the beginning it will not have the means to hinder Iran. So, Rouhani’s government observes the situation and it has not lost all of its influence.
The reluctant United States of America
Multiple questions are born by the American stance. On the one hand, it supports the anti- Iranian demonstrations. On the other hand, it holds a passive position not willing to intervene further in the country. So, the US imposed new economic sanctions to pro- Iranian individuals in Iraq, whereas it didn’t take part to the formulation of the new government.
The Trump administration’s policy should not cause doubts. Washington tries to understand what is going on. It has not forgotten the suffering of its invasion in 2003 and the effects it had and it doesn’t want to repeat the same mistake. Naturally, it takes its measures. Though, for now, is something more than an observer. It can be said that this turmoil and the negative consequences that it might have for Iran are enough for the present.
The joy and anxiety of Israel
Israel can feel two emotions at the same time. Firstly, it is satisfied concerning the events in Iraq. The latter are a first class chance to overthrow the Iranian presence and the danger it represents. Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had information about the movement of Iranian missiles inside the Iraqi territory which were going to threat the Israeli soil. Furthermore, it had been disappointed by the survival of Assad’s regime with the Iranian support. It was the first time that not a representative of Tehran in the region, but Iranian warriors and weapon systems were activated near the Jewish country. Iran was too close to Israel itself. In conclusion, the tense situation in Iraq is the first step for the reduction of the Iranian threat towards Israel.
Regarding the feeling of anxiety, it is not weird. Although there is a chance for the removal of Iran, at parallel there is no guarantee that this recess will happen. Iran possibly has taken its measures. Over two times Iranian officials visited pro- Iranian politicians and clericals in Iraq. Tehran has the ability exploit this turmoil for its own interest. Additionally, if Iraq becomes a failed state, it will be a great chance for radical Islamists to cover the security and political gap. So, Iraq can become a new “Afghanistan” for several Muslim militants and a base for terrorist attacks across the globe. Israel will be a target and Tel Aviv knows that very well.
It is evident that the turmoil in Iraq makes the difficult situation in the Middle East more complex. This complexity affects the policies of the states with the more interests. Iran is cautious and this stance is the most appropriate for this time. United States of America holds a passive- active stance not intervening into the Iraqi politics but not being a spectator. Israel, lastly, has mixed emotions. It is obvious that it wants a stable Iraq with a pro- Western government. For now, it cannot have this.
In a nutshell, the resign of the pro- Iranian government in Iraq caused new developments which have not showed which country is the winner and which is the looser. However, it can be concluded that if this friction continues, the winner will be the radical Islam.