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Are Shia Dynamics in Iraq and Lebanon Turning Against Iran?

Hanin Ghaddar (The Washington Institute) Despite Hezbollah’s powerful influence over Lebanon, much of the country’s Shia community looks to the Iraqi holy city of Najaf for religious guidance and leadership. Although Najaf was never politically involved in Lebanon the way Iran is, the Shia institutions that call it home were …

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Tehran Seeks to Consolidate Power in Iraq in 2018

Michael Knights – The Cipher Brief Iran’s principal regional nemesis was removed when Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown by the United States in 2003. The new Iraq quickly fell under the leadership of powerful Shia Islamist parties, most of whom had sheltered in Iran to avoid Saddam’s persecution. One example is …

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Pro-Iranian Shiite factions lose popular support in Iraq

Ali Mamouri (Al Monitor) On Aug. 30, 308 Islamic State fighters along with 670 members of their families were allowed to evacuate from the Qalamoun area along the Lebanese-Syrian border to the town of Bou Kamal in Deir ez-Zor province near the Iraqi border. The operation was carried out using 16 buses and ambulances sent by …

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In Iran, Islamic State seeks to fan militancy among minorities

Islamic State is seeking to radicalize disaffected ethnic minorities in majority Shi’ite Iran to encourage attacks intended to avenge Tehran’s offensive against the group across the Middle East. Sunni Islamic State, in decline in Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for an unprecedented attack on June 7 in which suicide bombers …

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Shiite political differences widen gap between Najaf, Qom

Ali Manovri (Al Monitor) While controversial cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist movement, continues to support the demonstrations that significantly sparked these Shiite differences, Shiite clerics based in Qom have issued fatwas condemning the protests and saying that they would lead to a devastating mess. The most recent demonstration …

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After the Ayatollahs: The Middle East Post-Khamenei

Ali Mamouri and Suzanne Maloney (The Washington Institute) On February 6, Ali Mamouri and Suzanne Maloney addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Mamouri is the editor of Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse Desk and a professor of political science at the University of Sydney. Maloney is deputy director of the Foreign …

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Turkey and Iran’s Dangerous Collision Course

Today’s competition between Turkey and Iran is the latest iteration of an old power game: a struggle their progenitors, the Byzantine and Persian empires, started over the control of Mesopotamia — today’s Iraq and Syria. While the rivalry outlived their transformation from empires to nation-states, they have managed to keep …

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Iranian-Backed Terrorism in Bahrain

Matthew Levitt and Michael Knights (Washington Institute) On January 1, a prison break in Bahrain resulted in the escape of ten Shiite detainees, all convicted of serious militancy offenses. The well-planned operation, in which attackers carrying assault rifles killed a guard, is one of many indicators that Iranian-backed Shiite cells are …

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POST-SISTANI IRAQ, IRAN, AND THE FUTURE OF SHIA ISLAM

Heydar al Khoi (War on the Rocks) During a recent trip to my hometown of Najaf in southern Iraq, I stumbled across a book titled My Leader Khamenei in the personal library of a cleric studying in the Islamic seminary known as the Hawza. He had picked it up at …

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