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Interregional rivalry cloaked in Iraqi Arab nationalism and Iran secular nationalism, and Shiite ideology

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To understand the contemporary IranianIraqi connection, it is important to look at their relationship dating back to the Classical Era. With Iran (the Achaemenid Persia) extending its control over the territory today known as Iraq since 550 BC, and with Iraq trying to influence Iranian politics since General Qasim's nationalist coup in 1958 and Saddam Hussayn's invasion of Iran in 1980, the two neighbours show a constant aspiration for more hegemony in the region. This article argues that Iran influences Iraq for its own political, cultural and economic gains, while Iraq influences Iran because of a general failure of Arab nationalist ideologies and the desire to become a power broker in the Persian Gulf region. To do that the following examines Islamic political activism in Iraq; focuses on Ayatullah Khomeini's connection with his Iraqi counterparts during his exile there; and takes a look at the Shah's surveillance of Iranian Communists and their support by the Iraqi government after 1958, as evidenced in the newly released SAVAK documents.
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Keywords: Da'wa or Dawa; Iran; Iranian communists or Tudeh; Iraq; Iraqi nationalism; Khomeini; Qasim; SAVAK; Saddam Hussayn; the Shah

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: California State University.

Publication date: February 1, 2009

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  • The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies is a new peer-reviewed, tri- annual, academic publication devoted to the study of modern Iraq. In recognition of Iraq's increasingly important position on the world stage, the time is right for a new journal dedicated to scholarly engagement with the country.
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