With the first Iraq election results coming in, Middle East countries are watching close and gauging what the vote means for their influence on the oil-rich state.
Cairo and Amman, Jordan
But majority Sunni nations are watching for a surge from Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya coalition. Mr. Allawi, a secular Shiite and former member of Saddam Hussein's Baath party, is seen as an Arab nationalist whose policies would tilt toward his Arab neighbors, rather than to Iran.
Under Mr. Hussein, Iraq was a bulwark for Arab states against the regional ambitions and influence of Iran, a Shiite regime long feared and often hated by its Sunni neighbors. Arab leaders are concerned that oil-rich Iraq could become part of an expanding sphere of Iranian influence.
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