Friday, November 4, 2011

Will Iran Fill Iraq Vacuum?

Gary Thomas | Washington
The Obama administration’s decision to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of this year could tempt Iran to try extending its influence there, analysts say, triggering increased tensions with Saudi Arabia as well as the United States.

President Obama announced the troop withdrawal plan last month after his negotiators were unable to reach agreement with the Iraqi government to keep a small contingent of U.S. troops in the country for a longer period. Washington also had sought to keep a few permanent bases in Iraq, but the talks broke down when Baghdad refused to grant U.S. troops immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts.

George Friedman, chief of the private intelligence firm Stratfor, says Iran sees the U.S. withdrawal as an opportunity.

“The Iranians have made it very clear that they regard the American withdrawal as a vacuum and that they intend to fill the vacuum,” says Friedman.

And Friedman says such an Iranian move would surely stir up trouble with Saudi Arabia, its strategic rival in the region.

“We have seen some substantial tension emerge between Saudi Arabia and Iran,” says Friedman, “including of course the story that Iranian operatives were planning to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States and destroy the Saudi Embassy.”

Aware of such troubling possibilities, U.S. officials have sought to make it clear a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq does not mean Washington is abandoning the region.

Read it all here.

1 comment:

George Patsourakos said...

I believe it is unlikely that Iran will try to extend its influence in Iraq, after U.S. troops leave Iraq by the end of December 2011. I remember when Iran and Iraq fought a ten-year war in the 1980s and early 1990s, with neither country being victorious.

In fact, today's news conveys that the United States, the United Kingdom, and especially Israel are all seriously considering attacking Iran within the next week or so, as a result of Iran's development of nuclear weapons.