by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi*
How much influence does Iran wield in Iraq? This question has long been a matter of debate and in light of the US troop withdrawal has become all the more relevant, especially with rumors of Iranian plans to have Mahmud Shahrudi, who is an Iraqi-born member of Iran’s Guardian Council and advocates clerical involvement in government, succeed the quietist Ali al-Sistani in Najaf.
Unfortunately, partisan politics on the left and right have precluded serious analysis on the subject.
In any event, we can begin by noting that Iraq has close economic ties with Iran. According to the Iranian ambassador to Baghdad, quoted in a report by the Tehran Times, trade transactions between the two countries over the past Iranian calendar year (ending on 19th March 2012) amounted to more than $11 billion.