The Real Outcome of the Iraq War: U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition in Iraq

(Center for Strategic and International Studies) Anthony H. Cordesman, Adam Mausner, Peter Alsis, and Charles Loi - The U.S. has gone to great lengths to counter Iranian influence in Iraq, including using its status as an occupying power and Iraq's main source of aid, as well as through information operations and more traditional press statements highlighting Iranian meddling. Yet Iraq needs trade and cross-border support from Iran, just as it needs aid, diplomatic, and military support from the U.S. Iraq's much-reduced military capabilities make it dependent on aid, military sales, and training from the U.S., and Iraq still lacks the resources and cohesion to resist against Iranian coercion and to defend against Iranian aggression. Iran enjoys deep ties to the ruling Shi'ite parties and factions in a country with which it once fought a fierce and bloody eight-year war. It plays an active role in mediating between Iraqi political leaders, it has ties to the Sadrists that are now the largest party in Iraq's ruling collation, and the IRGC has significant influence over elements within the Iraqi security forces. Iran seeks to ensure that Iraq does not serve as a base for the U.S., serve U.S. interests, or reemerge as a threat to Iran. Iran seeks to create a stable and malleable ally, not a peer competitor. It seeks to rid Iraq of American influence to the greatest extent possible. Unless the U.S. acts far more decisively, Iran seems likely to be the de facto winner of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

2011-12-27 00:00:00

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