Meet Me in Baghdad

U.S.-Iranian Tensions Flare in Iraq

Courtesy Reuters

Iraq is the focal point of a strategic competition between Iran and the United States. Ever since U.S. forces invaded Iraq in 2003, Iran has relentlessly sought to impose its will on the country and expand its power in the region. Although not entirely successful, it has gained strategic depth in Iraq and has been able to use the support it garners from Iraqi Shias and Kurds to disrupt those U.S. operations that run counter to its agenda. And when U.S. and Iranian interests overlap, the Islamic Republic has been able to support the United States in ways that enhance its own power. The apparent contradiction in Iran's activities makes Iran what I call a "spoiler power" in Iraq; it is insufficiently powerful to impose its own agenda on Iraq but influential enough to disrupt U.S. operations through asymmetrical means. Over time, Iran's behavior as a spoiler

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