Iran Is No Partner in ISIS Fight - Ali Alfoneh & Michael Pregent
The threat of the Islamic State not only makes the Iraqi Shia more dependent on Tehran and legitimizes Iran's military presence in Iraq, it also provides the regime in Tehran with another bargaining chip in nuclear negotiations with the P5+1. After the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, the civil war in Iraq, followed by the rise of Islamic State, forced moderate Iraqi Shia, who otherwise would have pursued a line independent of Iran, to become dependencies of Tehran.
The small contingent of U.S. advisers in Iraq is relying on a heavily Iranian-influenced Iraqi sectarian intelligence and security apparatus. The Iraqi security forces are predominantly Shia and, in addition, Shia militias and "advisers" from the IRGC Quds Force are now fighting as legitimate Iraqi forces.
This creates an environment in which targeting operations developed by Iranian forces and the militias have primacy over those developed by the U.S., leading to the possibility that Washington could be portrayed by Islamic State as complicit in the indiscriminate targeting of Sunnis. Such operations will be perceived the same way by the very Sunnis we need to fight Islamic State.
Ali Alfoneh is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Michael Pregent is a former intelligence officer and military adviser and now adjunct at National Defense University.
(Long War Journal)
Iran Occupies Iraq - Editorial
In the battle over Tikrit, the dominant forces are Shiite militias supplied and coordinated from Iran. Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, is supervising the attack against Islamic State. U.S. air strikes have been crucial to pinning down Islamic State forces, but Iran is benefitting on the ground.
Iran is essentially building an arc of dominance from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus to Beirut. The result is that an enemy of the U.S. with American blood on its hands is taking a giant step toward becoming the dominant power in the Middle East.
(Wall Street Journal)
Resisting the Iranian Occupation - Hanin Ghaddar
The perception of the U.S. in the region is changing. The majority of Sunnis now see the U.S. as taking sides in a sectarian fight, as an Iranian ally. Democracies like Lebanon, or potential democracies in the region, will slowly deteriorate because Iran will not acknowledge state institutions or tolerate freedom of speech.
Liberal and civil groups or individuals will lose legitimacy in the region and civil society will crumble amidst sectarian bloodshed. Is this what the U.S. really wants the region to look like?
An End to Iran's Containment? - Editorial
Don't Use Iran to Fight ISIS - Tovah Lazaroff interviews Yuval Steinitz
It's a mistake for the U.S. to use Iran to fight Islamic State and to help police the Middle East, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz warned in an interview. "Iran is already a stable caliphate and to allow it to be a superpower, this is a terrible, historic mistake." He warned that the U.S. "will get an Iranian Shi'ite empire with such vast resources and vast territory that the problem of Islamic State will be only one percent of this new problem. You do not resolve this problem [with Islamic State] by creating a bigger problem."