Countering the Hidden Hand: A Study of Iranian Influence in Iraq
Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States
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The purpose of this thesis is to illuminate the pathways of Iranian influence in Iraq in order to provide U.S. decision makers with a possible strategy to counter Irans malignant influence there. By using a combination of social network analysis and social movement theory, this study illuminates the network of actors fighting Daesh in Iraq by first analyzing the network to map Irans influence channels and identify macro- and micro-level brokerage within the network. Using a social-movement focused approach, this study then identifies a candidate group for mobilization. Study of the network reveals that Iranian influence is exerted via its sponsored Shia militias and by conducting bloc recruitment of tribal militias. To counter this, the Jubouri tribal confederation located in Salahuddin Province offers high potential for mobilization under U.S. sponsorship that could be used to combat Iranian influence.