On Monday, the anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr met with Iyad Allawi, who is vying to become Iraq's next prime minister after his coalition narrowly won parliamentary elections in March.
It might seem like a minor development in the endless political jockeying over forming a stable government in Iraq. But, in fact, this meeting was a victory for Iran and another setback for the United States.
As the Iranian regime suppressed internal dissent over the tainted reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it also worked to maintain its influence over Iraq's Shiite factions. By surviving an internal challenge, the so-called Green Revolution, the Iranian regime has become stronger and more emboldened to engage in adventurism abroad.
Sadr, who is most popular among young, impoverished Shiites, has helped Iran extend its influence over Iraq. He is positioning himself as the kingmaker who may well determine the political fates of Allawi and the current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who is fighting to keep his job. Sadr's meeting with Allawi took place in Damascus and was arranged by Syrian President Bashar Assad, another ally of Iran.