What's the Latest Development?
The stealthy influence of Iraq's true kingmaker, Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, has grown steadily over the last three years further complicating an American exit from the country. And as political turmoil spreads throughout the Middle East, more land comes under Suleimani's purview. "The strength of the ties between Suleimani and Iraqi legislators has been revealed during weeks of interviews with key officials, including those who admire him and those who fear the man like no other."
What's the Big Idea?
At stake is no less than who gets to shape the destiny of the heartland of Arabia. "'Suleimani's power comes straight from (the country's lead cleric Ayatollah) Khamenei,' said one of Iraq's three deputy prime ministers, Saleh al-Mutlaq, a secular Sunni. 'It bypasses everyone else, including Ahmadinejad. There is a saying in Islam that you should never get angry with your father or mother. The Shia interpret that as meaning what (Khamanei, via Suleimani) says has to be respected by every Shia inside, or outside Iran."