Washington's game doesn't fare so well when compared with those of Tehran and Ankara, even under the light of a lethal Shia-Sunni divide across the Middle East - the fires of which have been largely stoked by the House of Saud.
It was the US invasion and occupation of Iraq that totally smashed a Sunni-controlled, secular, Arab nationalist regime; in its wake sprang up a less secular, less nationalist government controlled by Shia. They are not Khomeinists by any measure; but many did live in exile in Iran, and want to keep very good relations with Tehran.
Al-Maliki's government wouldn't exactly like the majority Sunni protesters in Syria toppling Bashar al-Assad's regime, which is based on Alawite folk Shia.
Moreover, Iraqi Shia have been deeply touched by the plight of the Shia majority in Bahrain, which has been heavily repressed by the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty with crucial help from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
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