Iran, Iraq, and the United States: The New Triangle's Impact on Sectarianism and the Nuclear Threat
Author(s)Zuhur, Sherifa D.
Contributor(s)ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
KeywordsGovernment and Political Science
Humanities and History
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
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AbstractWhat is the best possible response to growing Iranian influence in Iraq? How does this issue relate to the crisis over Iran's efforts to obtain nuclear capabilities? Can the United States leverage one issue against the other, offering Iran incentives to shift down its nuclear program and, at the same time, withhold judgment on that country's influence in Iraq? Or are these concerns best dealt with separately from the American policy perspective? Beyond American foreign policy and policy analysis, European, Arab, Israeli, Russian, and Chinese interests are factors in the new equation. Perhaps there is no optimal response to an Iran determined to acquire nuclear capabilities, nor to an Iraqi Shi'i revival fostered or enhanced by Iranian "soft power." Still, to understand the dire predictions about the growth of Shi'a power, or to offer constructive advice about the trilateral relations of Iran, Iraq, and the United States, we must consider Iraqi-Iranian popular, religious, and state-level dynamics. If we appreciate the strongly varying interests and political experience of the Shi'a of Iraq and Iran, our fears of the dire scenarios predicted in the Arab world may diminish. Iran and Iraq historically have influenced and threatened each other. However, the triangle of U.S.-Iraq-Iran relations outweighs the two Middle Eastern states bilateral history, their contrasting political aims, respective grievances, and competition. Now, Iran's nuclear ambitions cast a shadow on the future of both countries, the Arabian Gulf states, Israel, and American forces and facilities in the region.