Even when we leave Iraq, we face years of blowback


"The encroachment of Iranian-style theocratic rule has been paralleled by a growing alliance with Tehran in areas such as energy and defence. It would be wrong to see Iraq's Shia parties simply as instruments of Iran. But it would also be foolish to ignore the very strong gravitational pull Tehran is likely to exert, for both ideological and strategic reasons, on the fledgling Islamic state to its west. As the Sciri leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim said on a recent visit to Basra: "The great Islamic republic has a very formidable government. It can be very useful to us, and it has an honourable attitude toward Iraq." Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab countries remain hostile to Shia rule in Iraq, so it is perhaps inevitable that they will be drawn to the protective embrace of their coreligionists. "

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