Leaked documents reveal scope of Iran’s influence in Iraq, US media report

Hundreds of pages of purported Iranian intelligence documents leaked to The New York Times and investigative news site The Intercept detail the massive scale of Iran’s influence in neighbouring Iraq, the two news organisations reported Monday.

Around 700 pages of leaked Iranian reports were sent anonymously to The Intercept, which translated them from Persian to English and shared them with The New York Times. The two news organisations were able to establish the authenticity of the documents, but they were not able to identify the anonymous source who communicated via an encrypted message, the US daily noted.

There was no immediate comment from Iranian or Iraqi officials on the contents of the leaked documents.

The report came amid growing anti-Iran sentiment in Iraq, with protesters in Baghdad as well as southern Iraqi cities expressing their rage over Iranian interference in their country.

“What these documents basically do is not revelatory in the sense that we know that Iran has had a long running campaign to wield its influence not just in neighbouring Iraq, but across the region from the Persian Gulf all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. That’s not news. What’s news here is the depth and the aggressiveness of this campaign, with Iranian field officers being sent into Iraq and actively trying to coopt, as these cables put it, Iraqi leaders to the Iranian cause,” explained FRANCE 24’s international news commentator Douglas Herbert.

“It was really a battle of influence against the United States that Iran was waging," continued Herbert. "In many cases, there were instructions to pay these Iraqi officials to switch sides and not to work for the Americans, and in general to infiltrate all aspects of Iraqi economic, social and political life.”