The victory of the hardline camp’s candidate Ebrahim Raisi in Iran’s presidential election has drawn various reactions about the nature of Tehran’s potential role in Iraq due to the direct link between internal variables in Iran and the Iraqi landscape. So, what is the nature of Iran’s role in Iraq in the wake of Raisi’s rise to power? And how Tehran’s strategic priorities would be reevaluated? And what are the ramifications of all of this on the Iraqi landscape?
Towards a new Iranian approach in Iraq?
The stage that followed the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force (QF), the arm of its Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), early 2020 has shown a state of major flaws in the strategy of QF in Iraq. The notable feature of these flaws was the failure of the new commander of QF Esmail Ghaani to fill the vacuum left by Soleimani’s absence. In addition, there was rebellions among pro-Iran factions, mass protests and American pressure that complicated the efficiency of Tehran’s role in Iraq. There is a belief that the rise of Raisi to power might lead to a new shift in Iran’s role in Iraq; the completion of hardliners control over all political and security institutions in Iran would create a state of unity and integration in Tehran’s objectives in Iraq. This, in turn, would lead to a new Iranian repositioning in the Iraqi landscape. In the past, there was a multitude of Iranian establishments, discourses and tools in Iraq.
The following are some of the features of Iran’s new approach under Raisi:
Iran’s strategic priorities in Raisi’s era
Over the past period, Iran has tried to preserve its strategic priorities in Iraq despite challenges. The following are some of these priorities on Raisi’s table:
Motivations of Iran’s repositioning
There are several variables that might push Iran to produce new approaches in Iraq, notably:
It is likely that Raisi’s new approaches would produce the following consequences on the Iraqi landscape:
The rise of a hardline figure such as Ebrahim Raisi to power in Iran will have a huge impact on the Iraqi landscape. Raisi enjoys close ties with militant figures and factions and the support of the hardline camp and IRGC. Therefore, Raisi can draw new features for Iran’s role in Iraq. This role will see a clear restructuring of tactics while Tehran’s general strategy would remain almost intact.
That said, one can argue that the Iraqi landscape will face more security and political challenges under Raisi. These challenges are related to the nature of the new roles which Tehran might play in Iraq in the future to execute its short-term plans and long-term strategies.
 “How would Raisi’s rise to presidency be reflected inside Iran?”, Iraqi Press Network, June 21, 2021. https://bit.ly/3vU16QN
 "Iran's Iraq policy unlikely to change under Raisi," Al-Monitor, June 21, 2021. https://bit.ly/2Sq8MMW
 “Al-Kadhimi will do away with veteran mediators…and embarrasses factions with Iranian messages for calm”, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, June 24, 2021. https://bit.ly/3qrlNlX
 “Will Raisi enhance Iran’s influence in Iraq?”, Amwaj Media, June 25, 2021. https://bit.ly/3gWa8sk
Notice: All publication rights of this article are reserved for the Emirates Policy Center (EPC). No part of this publication may be reproduced or quoted, in part or in whole, without direct and prior permission of EPC, with the exception of limited quotations that take into consideration the principles of scientific research, for specific educational or research purposes, with the need to refer to EPC as the original publisher.
EPC | 14 Jul 2021
EPC | 07 Jul 2021
EPC | 28 Jun 2021