Neighboring countries compete for influence in Iraq

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As U.S. troops accelerate their withdrawal from Iraq, a fierce and potentially dangerous struggle to fill the vacuum is gathering pace among the country’s often bitterly opposed neighbors.

Already, the 5-month-old effort to form a new government has become snarled in the battle for influence, with rival nations lining up behind the factions and political leaders shuttling among neighboring capitals for talks with their patrons.

The jockeying isn’t new, but many Iraqis worry that it could take on alarming new dimensions as U.S. troops pull out, leaving the country vulnerable to threats and pressure from predatory regional powers.

“It is very dangerous,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said. “It’s a zero-sum game for these countries. Everyone wants to knock down the other one’s policy.”

Full Story: Iraq war: Neighboring countries compete for influence in Iraq –