And while Riyadh’s budding friendship with Baghdad may be making Tehran uncomfortable, it’s still set to remain a force in Iraqi politics for the foreseeable future. “Although Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are likely to increase their influence in Iraq by providing reconstruction funds, in the long run, Iran will retain a significant influence over its neighbor,” Fitzroy added.
But a win for Abadi, who aims to rein in Iranian-backed bodies like the PMF, could potentially temper Tehran’s strength. According to Ryan Turner, a senior analyst at risk consultancy PGI Group, “Over the long-term, the growth of a non-sectarian national identity could diminish Iran’s influence in the country.”
The most positive election outcome for international private investors “is one which is as inclusive of Iraq’s various ethnic and political factions as possible,” said Hasnain Malik, head of equities research at frontier markets investment bank Exotix Capital.
Inclusion, he stressed, was vital for stability and thereby investor confidence. Neglecting that delicate balance risks pulling the country back into the violence from which it’s only just recovering.