Daily Memo: Contests for Influence in Iraq and the South China Sea

Iran issued an arrest warrant for U.S. President Donald Trump.

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Iran’s diminished influence. Iranian influence in Iraq suffered a major blow after Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi directed a raid last week on a Kataib Hezbollah post, leading to the arrest of over a dozen fighters and the confiscation of weapons systems. Several Iran-backed militias have accused the U.S. and Iraq of fomenting division, but the Iranian government itself has been careful not to publicly incite further tensions with Iraq. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, for example, said that the raid was an internal Iraqi affair and that Iran has no comment. At the same time, Tehran issued arrest warrants for U.S. President Donald Trump and 30 other U.S. officials for their involvement in the Jan. 3 killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq. It also asked Interpol to honor the warrants. The Iranian government knows nothing will come of this, but it intends for the request to serve as a warning against U.S. interference in Iraq. The COVID-19 crisis and U.S. sanctions continue to hamper Iran’s ability to finance its militias and political proxies in Iraq. After billions of dollars in Iranian central bank assets were frozen under U.S. sanctions and the Iranian rial fell to its lowest level […]

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