Shatha Khalil *
The Persian greed in Iraq dates back to the time of the Babylonians and perhaps further where the Persians attacked the land of Mesopotamia for the first time and occupied the city of Babel in 539 BC, during the reign of the Persian Emperor Korsh . Since that date, the Persian / Iranian attempts to control and swallow Iraq have not stopped.
In the ancient times, the Persian aspirations were characterized by its imperial character , and took a doctrinal approach , not hidden by Iranian leaders after the entry of Iranians in Islam in the year (637 AD), and this trend was developed more clearly, after the handover of power in Iran, “Ismail al-Safawi ” in 1510, and took the decision of the ” Shiism ” of the Iranian people, he was keen and those who came after him, to devote this trend in governance between the Iranians first, and then move to Iraq, by virtue of geographical proximity on the one hand, and the overlap of tribes and clans close to the border between Iraq and Iran, which extends to distance of ( 1350 km) on the other hand.
The Iraqi ambassador to Iran before the US invasion of Iraq, “Abdul Sattar al-Rawi said that” the official diplomatic representation between Iraq and Iran has already begun since the year (1848) in the wake of the second Treaty of ” Erzururm “, asserting that Iran was the only country that declined to recognize Iraq when It was established as a state – the Kingdom of Iraq – in the year (1921), and Iran continued its position of rejection for nearly nine years before it recognized Iraq as a state in 1929, and following this , the first Iranian consulate was established in Baghdad.
In February 1915, under the various international agreements to share the world among the world powers, the Iranian government provided, among the conditions provided to the Russian side, the fifth condition that provided for “the submission of a proposal to Britain through Russia in the form of a contract called” formal agreement “Between Iran and England, which the latter gives up – Britain – the area of Baghdad and its holy cities to Iran.
The area of Baghdad and its holy cities – geographically referred to – is the geographical area extending from Samarra, about 100 kilometers north of Baghdad, down to Karbala and Najaf governorates, through the city of Kadhimiya, adjacent to Baghdad, and ending with the administrative areas of Baghdad at that time, it means to bite the heart of Iraq and annex it to Iran.
After the year (1929), the Iranian tide moved to extend its influence in Iraq. The number of Iranian consulates in Iraq until 1934 reached eight consulates in eight governorates: Baghdad, Basrah, Amarah, Karbala, Diyala, Khanaqin, Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, and Mosul. ”
In the same context , Dr. Hafez Awad Khalaf al-Azzawi , in his book “Iran’s Strategic Influence in Iraq,” mentions Iran’s repeated attempts to control Iraq since 1915 and mentions the Iranian-Russian game of Persian ambitions in Iraq, and he indicates that the Russians interest in Iraq and its holy thresholds increased more and more clearly during the years 1915-1916, in the framework of the pressure exerted by the Allies to keep Iran away from Germany and the Ottoman Empire and in response to the Iranian government maneuvers aimed at exploiting the war conditions to achieve its own expansionist gains at the expense of others especially Iraq .
Al-Azzawi added that the ambitions of Iran did not stop at these limits , but increased the ceiling of its demands, which were included in the paper presented to the Peace Conference in Paris in 1919 after the end of the first war, to include this time Mosul in northern Iraq.
On October 3, 1932, after Britain and most of the world countries recognized Iraq as an independent state, Iran reluctantly recognized Iraq’s independence as a sovereign state. Iraq joined the League of Nations in accordance with these changes. Then the King of Iraq, Faisal I, began to restore relations with Iran, the neighboring country, which the ruling power in Iraq has always felt of the depth of its ambitions, and the vileness of its blatant interference in the internal and external affairs of Iraq, so Iraq has agreed to hold with Iran the Charter of “Saadabad” in a tripartite treaty, included Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.
That Iran’s appetite, which is still open to devour Iraq, or at least swallow parts of it , to satisfy some of the ambitions of Iran in neighboring Iraq , contributed to the aggravation of the crises between Iraq and Iran, especially after the Iranian revolution took control of Iran in 1979, , and the Iranian move increased to include many Arab and Islamic countries in different parts of the world.
The Iraq-Iran dispute was never a border / geographical dispute, If this were the case, the 1975 agreement would have dissolved it ,as Iran had acquired what it did not possess, and Iran was granted what it did not deserve. However, the differences between them – Iraq and Iran – , Multi-rooted dispute and parties and has several dimensions “historical, religious, demographic, etc.”
That the Iranian influence was not limited to Iraq only – and that it received the largest share – but went beyond that to include the Arab and African Ocean, and went further to include many countries of the Islamic world in different parts of the world, primarily Afghanistan and Pakistan and the five Islamic countries separated from the former Soviet Union , as well as Iran’s relentless moves to extend its influence in India and the Islamic countries of South-East Asia, which is clearly demonstrated by the clear presence of the Iranian community in some European countries with an Islamic majority in general, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular.
Expansion of Iranian ambitions in Iraq after 2003:
With regard to the expansion of Iranian greed in Iraq after 2003, Dr. Hafez Awad Khalaf al-Azzawi, in his previous book, refers to the golden opportunity obtained by Iran to extend its influence and increase its hegemony over Iraq after its invasion in 2003, when Iraq was presented to the Iranian government on a silver platter that made Iran to move with all its strength to stabilize the political process in Iraq noting that the government in Tehran did not hesitate to embrace the first form of government after the US invasion, represented by the interim Governing Council formed by the American “Paul Bremer” in mid-July (2003 AD), despite many criticisms, and questions raised by that support, because of Iran’s declared hostility to the United States, which Iran has called since Ayatollah Khomeini took power in February 1979, the “Great Satan” in asserting its antagonism to it .
Not only that, the Iranian government was keen to support successive governments in Iraq after 2003, as well as supporting the Iraqi Constitution, which was ratified on 15 October 2005, while the Iranian President and under the protection of American forces did not hesitate to visit Baghdad occupied by US forces on March 3, 2008, and to meet with government officials in Baghdad on the pretext of supporting the Iraqi ruling parties supported by Iran.
How Iran benefited from Iraq’s economic situation after 2003.
There were many images and aspects of Iran’s use of the economic conditions of Iraq after its occupation in 2003, the most important of which are the following:
• Trade exchange: As the volume of Iranian trade with Baghdad increased, especially after the signing of agreements by the government in the service of the economic activity of Iran only, in September (2014), an agreement by which Baghdad reduced tariff for Iranian goods to range between (0, 5% ), and in February (2015), Tehran agreed with Baghdad to cancel the control over the Iranian exports of goods at the border crossings, to facilitate the movement of trade between the two countries, and these measures increased the proportion of Iraqi imports of Iranian goods to about (72%), Iraq to occupy the first rank in its imports of these goods from Iran .
• Iran’s domination of the energy sector: Iran has also sought a greater presence in the Iraqi energy sector, as stated by Iranian Energy Minister Hamid Shit shian in July 2014 when he confirmed that Iran is participating in twenty-seven projects to generate electricity, with a value exceeding one billion and a quarter billion dollars, and expected Iran’s acquisition of between (5-10%) of development projects in Iraq, which will exceed the total cost (275) billion dollars until 2017.
• Iraq is a consumer market for Iranian products: the Iraqi economy has become a consumer market for Iranian goods, which has led to the imbalance of the Iraqi-Iranian trade balance in favor of Iran, as well as the decline of economic development, weak national product, neglect of agriculture and lack of industry, , and the trend towards the imported product in general, and all this reflected negatively on the Iraqi economy and its dependence and on the entire joints of the Iraqi state and its policies, and the impact on the availability of the necessary income and the decent living for the Iraqi people.
• Border ports: The border crossings were the first means of Iran to flood Iraqi markets with Iranian goods and control the trade in them, where the assistant commercial affairs in the Department of Industry and Trade in the province of Ilam, Iran, “Jamil Shohani” declared about the export of his country’s goods to Iraq worth more than one billion and seven hundred and fifty million dollar through the Mehran border crossing during the year 2017 , compared to the year 2016 , in the framework of Iran’s dominance over the Iraqi economy, through dumping its markets with poor Iranian goods and products which pointed to by “Shohani” of the rise of the volume of exports of Iran (About 78%) compared to the same period of the year 2015. He added that nearly half a billion dollars was the value of the goods exported from the Iranian province of Ilam to Iraq, indicating a rise of 4% compared to the previous ones , pointing out that the exports included construction materials, metal and agricultural products, plastics, cars, spare parts and petrochemicals. This was also confirmed by the Commercial Attaché of the Iranian Embassy in Iraq, Mohammad Reza Zadeh, when he announced at the end of November 2016 that the volume of exchange between his country and Iraq reached 13 billion dollar annually , of which $ 6 billion and $ 200 million were exports of non-oil Iranian goods to Iraq. Thus, Iran’s exports to Iraq doubled by 17 times over the last decade. The Iranian economic invasion of Iraq was confirmed by the Director General of the Iranian Handicrafts Export office who announced the import of Iraq of more than half of the exports of Iranian handicrafts in 2016, as the current government seeks to support Iran’s deteriorating economy, and also allows Iran to exploit border crossings between the two countries to smuggle drugs, another proof of the Iranian economic invasion of Iraq, a detachment of the Iraqi police belonging to the Shalamjah border crossing in the Shatt al-Arab district arrested a defendant from Najaf province who smuggled drugs during his entry into Iraq coming from Iran, events which are frequently occurred , which led to drug trafficking activity inside Iraq and coming from Iran.
• Companies and banks: Iran also controls the Iraqi financial companies and banks. Press reports confirmed that more than 60% of the shares of Iraqi companies and banks belong to Iranians and that they control the Iraqi financial markets. The main goal of Iran is to plunder the wealth of Iraq, and increase Iranian influence in it, and weaken it, and enter into an economic spiral that it is difficult to get out of it, all this and other things make the Iraqi citizen wondering when and how they will get rid of this blatant Iranian incursion against Iraq and the Iraqis?!
Economic Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies