By Trying to Restrain Israel, the White House Is Sending the Wrong Message to Iran

Two years ago yesterday, an American missile ended the life of Qassem Suleimani, the Iranian generalissimo who directed the expeditionary arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and coordinated the activities of a formidable network of militias and terrorist groups throughout the Middle East. While the strike on Suleimani was a response to a series of attacks on U.S. troops and U.S. allies in the previous year, Suleimani had been fighting the American military in Iraq, and terrorizing the country’s civilians, since 2003. Eli Lake considers some of the repercussions of his death:

After the Suleimani strike, Iran’s militias continued probing attacks on U.S. positions in Iraq, while Iran’s scientists continued to install more advanced centrifuges in its nuclear facilities. But Iran stopped menacing commercial ships, and U.S. embassies did not face more mobs. And while some of this can be explained by the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump’s show of force was also a factor.

While President Biden has eased economic pressure on Iran and opened negotiations, he also responded to an attack on American positions by Iran-backed guerrillas with a missile strike, showing that he too is not afraid to use force. But, Lake explains, not all his decisions have been so tough-minded:

Most troubling, . . . the U.S. has let it be known that it does not approve of Israeli intelligence operations against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Some administration officials doubt the efficacy of Israel’s sabotage and assassinations inside Iran, according to the New York Times, fearing that they provide an incentive for Iran to build back its nuclear program better.

This is the wrong message. Not only does it risk alienating America’s most important ally against Iran, . . . it also risks more provocations from Iran: if the regime’s leaders believe they face only economic consequences for their predations, then they will continue to test America’s resolve.

Read more at Bloomberg

More about: Iran, Iraq, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy


An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy