When the American Invasion of Iraq from 2003 is brought up in any conversation, you can almost hear a collective groan from everyone in the room. “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is considered by many to be a stain on the record of American foreign policy and action. While the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein was removed from power, a plethora of other problems followed in the wake of the de-Baathification of the country.
In my personal opinion, one of the greatest implications/consequences of the invasion was the increase in Iranian influence, something that continues to grow to this day. With the removal of the primarily Sunni government, many Shia groups began to fight back against their former oppressors, leading to a large sectarian clash. These Shia group were often backed by Iran, receiving weapons and training from Iranian forces, some of which were commanded by the late Qasem Soleimani. These forces were responsible for the deaths of countless Americans during the occupation and counter insurgency operations of Iraq.
Today, the power vacuum left by the American removal of Saddam continues to plague Iraq. Iranian forces increased their presence during the mid 2010s to help combat ISIS, spreading Iranian military and cultural influence along the way. In addition, members of Iranian backed militias continue to gain power within the Iraqi government, bringing Baghdad and Tehran closer in alignment politically. These groups include the Popular Mobilization Front and al-Nujaba, organizations with ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The future of Iraq looks dim with Iranian influence growing every day, and it was largely set in motion by the US invasion in 2003.