Marc Lynch analyzes Maliki's trip to Iran:

Maliki's friendly trip to Tehran and chat with Khamenei are important signals. But I'm not highlighting it in order to fan any kind of hysteria or outrage. In fact, I think it's a potential positive if managed well. The idea that this Iraq could be free of Iranian influence has always been an odd fantasy, and Iran has always cultivated a wide portfolio of Iraqi allies and partners far beyond the Sadrists upon which American attention tends to focus (their closest ally, of course, has always been ISCI, the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq -- something else they share with the U.S.). As the incoming Obama administration contemplates direct engagement with Iran -- and Iraq prepares for a series of elections and transitions, while Iran prepares for its own Presidential election -- a constructive relationship between Baghdad and Tehran is hardly the worst development imaginable. Depending on how it's managed, that is...

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.