The US relationship with Iraqi Shiite political actors prior to the 2003 invasion is often described as positive given the high-level consultations and coordination. This has led to the notion among some observers that Washington handed the country over to Iraqi Shiites and to Iran. But this belief is far from shared by Shiites, who recall waves of tension both before and after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Today, Iraq's Shiites and the US face challenges marked by three key dimensions: ties with Iran, the lack of a unified Shiite vision for relations with the US, and the absence of strong instruments to build an effective relationship.
The unregulated relationship with Iran
Many US-based observers view Iran as wielding extensive influence over Iraqi society and state institutions, using a network of ties with particularly Shiite factions. Moreover, despite the growing rejection of Iranian influence by segments of Shiite Arabs, Tehran is perceived as limiting dissenting voices from...
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