By Xander Snyder
Iran’s influence in the Middle East is no secret. The government has made no effort to hide its regional ambitions, and it has barely balked in expanding its influence since the Islamic State was weakened. Its influence has always been kept in check by the fact that it is a Shiite country in a majority Sunni region. One notable exception is Shiite-majority Iraq, and the parliamentary elections on May 12 will be an indicator of just how deep Iran has sunk its roots into the organs of the state – and of just how divided Iraqi society is.
New and notable about the upcoming election is just how many political parties and coalitions there are in a contest that ordinarily sees just a few broad coalitions. These coalitions tend to run the gamut of political interests. In power currently is the State of Law coalition, which won more seats than any other coalition in 2014 but failed to win an outright majority. That year, Nouri al-Maliki, a member of the Islamic