Strategic confusion

Misunderstanding Iran's role works to increase its influence in Iraq

Misunderstanding Iran's role works to increase its influence in Iraq, write Brian Katulis and Matthew Duss.

In their testimony before Congress this week, Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker and General David Petraeus portrayed recent clashes between competing Iraqi factions as a fight between the Iraqi government and Iranian-supported groups looking to undermine that government. This simplistic "good guys versus bad guys" depiction masks a much more complicated reality in which U.S. policy in Iraq unwittingly strengthens Iran’s overall hand there and around the region.

Speaking before Congress, General Petraeus said, "Iran has fueled the violence in a particularly damaging way through its lethal support to the special groups," referring to Shiite splinter groups allegedly receiving support from Iran. According to the general, the recent clashes between Shiite groups stretching from Basra in the south all the way to Baghdad "highlighted the destructive role Iran has played in funding, training, arming, and directing the so-called special groups."

Read more here.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


 (Brian Katulis)

Brian Katulis

Former Senior Fellow

Matthew Duss

Policy Analyst