Journal of Turkish Weekly
January 26, 2011
A top U.S. State Department official says Iran's efforts to exercise "hard power" in Iraq have failed, prompting Tehran to try to influence its western neighbor through the use of "soft power," or more indirect means.
Michael Corbin, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq issues, made the comment at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think tank.
"The Iranians will always have influence in Iraq," Corbin said, "but they have chosen to use 'soft power' for the most part because they have failed at using the 'hard power.'"
Corbin said that more direct attempts to influence events in Iraq, including support for terrorist groups that the United States accuses Iran of backing, have not "succeeded in making an impression on the Iraqi people that's favorable."
He also pointed to Iraq's January 2009 provincial elections, in which he said Tehran's support for certain candidates made them unsuccessful.
In Iraq, Corbin added, people's interests for their country balance Iran's interests, and "nobody is working directly for Iran."
U.S. soft power, he said, comes with "technical assistance [and] real economic agreements."