Iran wove an important network to try to influence Iraq’s internal policy, according to leaked documents

They reflect the increase in Tehran's weight in the face of the US invasion and its withdrawal of troops in 2011


Iran has carried out an important campaign to try to influence Iraq's internal policy in the face of the vacuum left by the Americans with their withdrawal of troops in 2011, according to Intelligence documents leaked and published Monday by The Intercept and 'The New York Times '.

Both publications have indicated that the reports have been verified and drafted mainly between 2014 and 2015 by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, although the source that has leaked them remains anonymous.

Iran wove an important network to try to influence Iraq’s internal policy, according to leaked documents
Iran wove an important network to try to influence Iraq’s internal policy, according to leaked documents

Official Iraqi sources recently pointed to the intervention of the head of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards of Iran, Qassem Soleimani, to prevent the cessation of the Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, in the framework of the anti-government demonstrations that erupted in early October.

However, the documents published on Monday point to a much more widespread and framed influence on a project by the Iranian authorities to keep Baghdad as a country allied to their interests, although they also reflect the different approaches and divisions between the different sectors of power in Tehran.

These documents suggest that Abdul Mahdi as a person with “a special relationship” with Iran, although a former senior US official has argued that this could have many meanings, and not necessarily imply that he is an Iranian agent.

Abdul Mahdi, who was Minister of Petroleum in 2014 and who worked closely with Iran during his exile under Saddam Hussein's regime, was considered an acceptable candidate for Washington and Tehran in 2018, when he rose to office in the midst of a new crisis. Politics in the country.

The aforementioned documents were prepared by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence, considered as the Iranian CIA, although it is often overshadowed by the Intelligence Organization of the Revolutionary Guard, created in 2009 and much more ideological.

In this way, it is the latter body that appoints ambassadors in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, countries that it considers as key to its national security. In addition, the elected leave the ranks of the Revolutionary Guard, and not the Foreign Ministry.

Among its main tasks is to obtain alliances and friendships with important politicians of the country, something facilitated by the relations between them and Tehran when they were fighting against the Hussein regime, as well as closing trade agreements.


Among the main factors driving Iranian action in Iraq is the collection of information on US measures and policies in the country, within the framework of its bilateral disputes.

Hasán Danaiefar, Iranian ambassador to Iraq between 2010 and 2017, has told The Intercept and 'The New York Times' that Tehran has an advantage in collecting information. “We have a lot of information about Iraq on many issues, especially what the United States does there,” he acknowledged.

In this regard, the Iranian authorities worked quickly to include former CIA informants in their ranks after the withdrawal of US troops in 2011, many of whom were unemployed and afraid of being killed for their relations with Washington. However, Iranian influence in the country was on the rise since Hussein's fall in 2003.

According to the documents, among these people there is an old American source that could give “internal views on the plans of the US Government in Iraq, whether in its struggle with the Islamic State or any other undercover operation.”

There is also another former CIA informant who handed over Tehran from safe house locations of the US organization to details about military training and names of other Iraqis who were spying in Washington's favor.

The work in this field was also related to the decision of former President George W. Bush to include Iran in the 'axis of evil', which caused Tehran to fear a possible offensive and give priority to all kinds of information that would allow it to be addressed. .

The documents also reveal that Iran's main objectives also included preventing a collapse of Iraq, preventing the strengthening of Sunni militiamen on the border with Iran, also avoiding a sectarian war and putting obstacles to an independence of Iraqi Kurdistan, which could threaten the Iranian territorial integrity.

The Revolutionary Guard and Soleimani worked equally to end the Islamic State, although The Intercept emphasizes that the main focus was “to keep Iraq as a clientele state and ensure that political factions to Iran remain in power.”


The advance of Islamic State in summer 2014 and its seizure of numerous territories in western and northern Iraq seemed to unite the United States and Iran in the fight against a common enemy, although the documents reflect that it was not always the case.

The cables reflect that Tehran considered the new US deployment and coalition operations as a “coverage” to gather intelligence on Iran. ”

“What is happening in the skies over Iraq shows the massive level of activity by the coalition,” said an Iranian official. “The danger of these activities for the interests of Iran must be taken seriously.”

In this context, the Administration of Barak Obama pressed for the cessation of the then Prime Minister, Nuri al Maliki, blaming his sectarian policies and draconian policies on the rise of jihadists.

Al Maliki, very close to Tehran, was replaced by Haider al Abadi, educated in the United Kingdom and considered as closest to the United States. However, Iran considered that the change would not be substantial because several of its ministers were close to Tehran.

Among them was Bayan Yaber, head of the Transport portfolio and to which Soleimani claimed during a private meeting that gave permission for Iranian airplanes to use Iraqi airspace to transport weapons and supplies to Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

While Yaber has confirmed the meeting, he stressed that the flights contained only humanitarian aid and pilgrims who wanted to visit Shia mosques in Syria.


Despite these efforts and the weight of the Shiite power in southern Iraq – where it has religious offices and supports various parties – part of the population has expressed a growing rejection of this external influence, which they equate with the United States.

In fact, one of the main demands of the protesters has been to break ties with any country that wants to influence Iraq, and several party offices aligned with Tehran have been attacked within the framework of the protests.

In this sense, the Iranian influence and the perception that it works to promote the interests of the Shiite community has caused great resentment among the Sunni population, which has sometimes turned to groups like the Islamic State to seek protection.

The division between internal policies in Iran became visible with the Sunni massacre in 2014 Jurf al Sajar, in the framework of the offensive against the Islamic State.

One of the cables, especially hard with the Shiite militias supported by the Revolutionary Guard, emphasizes that “this policy of Iran in Iraq has allowed the Americans to return to Iraq with greater legitimacy.”

“Some groups and individuals who have been fighting the Americans among the Sunnis now want not only the United States, but also Israel, to enter Iraq and save it from the clutches of Iran,” he said.

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