Center for American Progress

RELEASE: America’s Dangerous Blind Spot in the Middle East
Press Release

RELEASE: America’s Dangerous Blind Spot in the Middle East

Iraq’s evolving relationship with Iran reshapes the regional landscape in the Middle East, threatening U.S. interests in the region.

In early June, top U.S. officials will address the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, with Iran likely to be the major focus of the gathering. As these policymakers deliver their speeches about Iran and the strategic necessity to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions, they should examine the fundamental contradiction that exists in the current Bush administration approach to the Middle East—current U.S. policy in Iraq boosts Iran’s close allies in Baghdad, which in turn represents a new emerging challenge to Israel and other key allies in the Middle East.

Many conservatives, among them columnist David Brooks writing in today’s New York Times, highlight the threat posed by Iran, and wrap their arguments in a broader regional landscape, stressing Iranian ties to Syria and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. But conservatives then conveniently ignore Iraq. In the summer of 2006, however, when Israel was fighting a live war in Lebanon with Hezbollah, it was clear whose side many top Iraqi leaders were on—and it was not Israel.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki condemned Israel’s “aggression,” and that same summer, the Iraqi speaker of parliament Mahmoud Al-Mashhadani accused “Jews” of being behind the violence and murders in Iraq. Are these the type of allies that the United States wants? Is the current policy in Iraq undermining U.S. and Israeli security interests by giving Iran some breathing room to expand its influence further around the region?

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