Since 2014, the Shiite Badr Organization, led by its Secretary General Hadi al-Amiri, has become one of the main actors in Iraqi politics, notes Dr. Guido Steinberg, a Senior Associate in the Middle East and Africa Division of Germany’s SWP foreign policy institute. The Badr Organization, which relies strongly on support from Tehran, has become the most important instrument of Iranian politics in its neighboring country, he writes:
Tehran’s aim is to exert as much influence as possible on the central government in Baghdad and, at the same time, build a strong militia that depends on it. Since Badr established control over the province of Diyala and the Interior Ministry of Baghdad, the organization has grown appreciably and is now playing a role similar to that of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Badr is also part of a growing “Shiite International” which supports the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and aggravates religious conflicts between Sunnites and Shiites through its violent acts. The
combination of these factors makes the organization an increasingly important obstacle to the future stabilization of Iraq.
Iranian influence is a major challenge to the authority of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, experts suggest.
The first is to preserve the influence acquired over the past 14 years; second is to preserve a particular influence in the western parts [the Sunni areas]; and third is to look for Shiite liberals on the Iraqi political map.” Since Iraq is a secular state constitutionally, Iran’s Shiite government needs liberal Shiites in the Iraqi government to maintain its influence there.
He added, “Iran has warned against taking measures such as dismissing the PMU or making do without them. In contrast, Abadi wants to disavow from forces fighting in Syria. This is in itself a point of divergence between both sides.”