Iran’s news site and many others in the Iranian media have reported that “Iraq has roundly rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent remarks that Iran is “taking over” the neighboring Arab country. All the outlets claimed to quote Sa’ad al-Hadithi, the spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office and that Iraq had denounced the statement of the American president. quoted al-Hadithi to state that “Iraq is an independent country, and not influenced by any other state.” Officials in Baghdad have no doubt Iraqi-centric and local motivations in mind when they speak against some of the statements and actions of the Trump administration, which has included a recent travel ban for travelers from among others Iraq.
At the same time, the immense political influence that Iranian state actors have amassed in Iraq since 2003 is an irrefutable reality. In particular, the Quds Force, the external branch of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C), is today the key powerbroker in Baghdad. This has created much popular Iraqi resentment that sees the I.R.G.C.'s actions on Iraqi soil to serve Iranian over Iraqi interests.