Pushing back on Iran, part 4: The struggle for Iraq

Yesterday, I discussed how I think a policy of pushing back on Iran should be applied in Syria, where I believe the United States needs to go on the offensive against Iran.  Today, I want to look next door, at Iraq. As in Syria, Iran has important vulnerabilities in Iraq, but it also has considerable strength there.  […]

Kenneth Pollack writes for The American Enterprise Institute:

Yesterday, I discussed how I think a policy of pushing back on Iran should be applied in Syria, where I believe the United States needs to go on the offensive against Iran.  Today, I want to look next door, at Iraq.

As in Syria, Iran has important vulnerabilities in Iraq, but it also has considerable strength there.  An Iranian-dominated Iraq would serve as a dangerous conduit for Iranian influence into the rest of the Arab world.  Yet Iraq remains a fragile state, one still struggling to emerge from the nightmarish combination of Saddam’s tyranny, a dozen years of international sanctions, invasion, a botched occupation, civil war, neglect, and renewed civil war.  The United States has its own interests in Iraq that extend beyond denying it to Iran’s sphere of influence.  Most Iraqis hope that both America and Iran will help them to rebuild and heal the wounds of its savage past.  And Iraqis do not want their country to become the battlefield on which Iran and America fight.

All of this makes addressing the Iranian challenge in Iraq uniquely complex, very different from Syria, and so worthy of its own discussion.