May 28, 2015 | Quote

Iran Challenging Regional Balance of Power

Fallujah, Mosul, Tikrit, Ramadi: One by one, key Iraqi cities fell to Islamic State militants as Iraqi security forces failed to hold their ground. In their place, Iranian-sponsored Iraqi Shi’ite militias, who once battled U.S. soldiers, have emerged as among the strongest ground forces capable of pushing back the extremists.

And now, in the battle to retake Ramadi, just as in the battle to recapture Tikrit, Washington has been put in the curious position of providing air strikes to cover Iraqi paramilitary forces supported by Tehran – for decades considered an adversary of the United States and U.S. allies in the region.


Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, warned that Iran’s actions in Iraq could backfire when it comes to defeating ISIL.

“The more Iran becomes engaged in the fight inside Iraq, the more this plays to the Islamic State’s recruiting message, which is: the Iranians support the Shia government in Baghdad, the government in Baghdad is merely an Iranian stooge and the Iranians are coming to exterminate us Sunnis. This is a message that resonates with a large portion of the Sunni population in Iraq,” Roggio told VOA.

Analysts believe that Iran wants to have as much influence as possible in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, and then use that as a counterweight against the United States and the majority Sunni countries in the region.

“Iran’s end game in the Middle East is ultimately to expand its influence,” Roggio said.


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