Diala, an Iranian army base
Diala Province, majority of which is under control of Islamic State, IS, has shared borders with Iran.
Despite concerns by some Iraqi political groups and the International Coalition against IS about the presence of Iranian military forces in Iraq, the number of Iranian soldiers in the province of Diala is on the rise.
The silence by the government of Haider al-Abadi, Iraqi Prime Minister, about this issue, is considered to be some type of green light. The justification for this silence by Baghdad is the existence of other foreign countries’ armed forces inside Iraq.
“Iran is a powerful player and had had an important role in protecting Iraq’s security,” PM Abadi said in a recent statement. “How can I destroy our relations with Iran?”
Iranian Deputy Defense Minister Reza Talayee Neek says in an interview with Al Alam TV Channel “if [the US and the interna- tional forces] come closer to our territories inside Iraq, we will immediately fight against them with all our power, and we will do all of these with the support of Iraq and Syria.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also warned about possible threats over Baghdad and Shiite sacred sites, and argued that the goal of both the US and IS is to attack on the Shiite sacred sites and in such a case, they will engage all their military power.
Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, on the other hands, states that all problems in Iraq are considered theirs and that his country will do its best to support Iraq.
Larijani also denounced the incapability of the international coalition against IS.
Although Iranian authorities justify these actions by trying to support Iraq and protect its Shiite community and sacred sites, political observers and Western countries such as the US and Europeans, consider these military involvements and existence of Iranian armed forces inside Iraqi territories are for other goals including sectarian, ideological and political, and strengthening its presence and serving its interests in the region.
Some argue that the fact that the US is considered the top enemy for Iran encourages the latter to move the conflicts outside its country and face its enemy inside the Iraqi borders.
The US, fearing these, stepped up and prevented the participation of Iran in the international coalition against IS. However, Iran is now finding other ways to seek its goals in the game.