By Renad Mansour, for Foreign Policy. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq’s New Prime Minister Is Taking Things Slow

After nearly 20 years of political chaos in Baghdad, Mustafa al-Kadhimi is trying incremental reform.

Despite this dire context, the new prime minister is neither a revolutionary who will overhaul the system nor a strongman who will centralize power.

Instead, he is seeking incremental reform, working within the existing system.

His vision is to navigate the impasse between citizens and elites-and the political fragmentation between elites themselves-by striking a new balance between reform and the status quo.

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By Seth J. Frantzman, for Foreign Policy. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The PMU Is Getting More Aggressive in Iraq

In January, Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of Iraq’s largest political party, traveled to Iran’s holy city of Qom to meet with representatives of several Iraq-based paramilitaries from the hugely influential Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).

That visit was part of an attempt by Sadr to position himself as the face of public anger directed against the United States over the assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Suleimani.

Sadr is an important figure in Iraq not only because of his ties to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei but also because members of his Saraya al-Salam militia turned out in significant numbers to protect anti-government protesters against Iraqi security forces, including the PMU, last year.

The death of Suleimani caused pro-Iranian paramilitaries to flex their muscles by clashing more openly with U.S. troops, which could be a sign that the PMU is reimagining its future role in Iraq. Sadr’s intervention now makes the PMU’s ascendance undeniable.

While he tried to navigate the wave of popular protest last year, he has hedged his influence with the PMU this year, illustrating that the organization cannot be sidelined.

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By Daniel V. Speckhard, for the Atlantic Council. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

As a purveyor of violence, death, and destruction, few outside Iran will mourn the death of Iranian Quds Force leader General Qasem Soleimani.

But the issue of what happens next is much more than where and how Iran chooses to take its revenge. Nothing less than the future shape of the Middle East is at stake.

Once again, the United States looks like the stumbling giant that can knock down a hornet’s nest but can’t kill the swarm.

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By Aaron Majid, for Foreign Policy. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

These days, Tehran is having trouble getting what it wants from its neighbor—a development Washington can encourage by backing off.

It almost goes without saying these days that Iran dominates its western neighbor. On April 27, for example, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed tweeted that Iran’s regime “controls” Iraq.

Now-U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton once compared Tehran’s grip on Iraq to the Soviet Union’s stranglehold over Eastern Europe during the late 1940s.

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By Geneive Abdo, for Foreign Policy. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Pro-Iran factions are pushing for the move just as the Islamic State is starting to hit back.

Momentum is building among deputies in the Iraqi parliament to oust U.S. troops entirely from the country—an outcome that would leave Iraq’s political future in the hands of neighboring Iran and leave its citizens more vulnerable to the Islamic State.

Today, the United States fields an estimated 5,200 troops in Iraq. They are there as part of a security agreement with the Iraqi government to advise, assist, and support that country’s troops in the fight against the Islamic State.

But the Iraqi parliament is expected to vote soon on draft laws calling for a full withdrawal. For now, things don’t look good for the troops.

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By Ahmed Twaij, for Foreign Policy.

Recent violent protests in the southern Iraqi city of Basra have brought to light years of suffering by Iraqis in what is known as the economic capital of Iraq due to its vast oil reserves and deep-sea port access connecting the country to the international market.

Basra, a predominantly Shiite city, also has a significant minority population, including black Iraqis and Christians. It is Iraq’s second-largest city and has developed a reputation for fostering some of Iraq’s greatest artists.

During the first Gulf War, the Iraqi military used Basra as a route for the Kuwait invasion; ironically, a decade later, U.S.-led forces used it as a path toward Baghdad during the 2003 invasion.

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