Perhaps no other country faces a greater exposure to competition between Iran and the United States than Iraq. So far, inside Iraq, the Trump administration has sensibly prioritized counterterrorism partnership against ISIL over its broader policy of competition with Iran. But a pair of recent developments may test that approach.
First, President Donald Trump has taken an increasingly belligerent stance toward Iran. He pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. He seeks to cripple Iran’s economy and signaled a willingness to confront Tehran across the Middle East. As U.S. focus shifts from anti-ISIL to countering Iran, and America’s Gulf and Israeli partners strike at Iranian forces in Syria and Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, Iraqis and others are wondering whether Washington will begin to treat Iraq as another front in their region-wide anti-Iranian pressure campaign. But forcing Iraqis to choose between their partners, as they compete elsewhere, would likely backfire and play into Iran’s hands.
The above excerpt was originally published in War on the Rocks.
Click here to view the full article.