"Najaf will always be a double-edged sword for the Iranians. On the one hand, Iran is able to extend their socio-economic links to Iraq through Najaf, the religious centre of Shia Islam. On the other hand, the rivalry between the Najaf and Qum schools will always remain a thorn for Iranian interests in Iraq as long as there are strong ideological opponents of Khomeini’s view on theocratic government.
Sistani rarely gets directly involved in politics, precisely because of his rejection [of] the Guardianship of the Jurist, but in his last intervention he pushed the idea of on open-list system in the general elections to make politicians in Iraq more accountable to their constituents – much to the dismay of Iran. The first parliamentary elections were held on a closed list basis, in which voters voted for party lists but party leaders decided in back room negotiations who exactly would fill the seats. Sistani was conveying a well known desire of the Iraqi people to know which MPs they were placing in power. But the Iranians did not want an open list because they preferred a united Shia list, which would be able to win seats based more on its sectarian coloration and not because of the individual merit of candidates."