US strategy to curb Iran’s influence in Middle East

The US administration is planning to create a strategy aiming at reducing Iran’s influence in Iraq and the Middle East region, a report published by the Atlantic Center for International Studies and Research in Washington says.

This comes as tensions between Washington and Tehran reached the peak during the past months, especially after the US assassinated Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq earlier this year.

The report points out that the US plan is based on re- organizing the US presence in Iraq, noting that the Iranian support for the Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Mustafa Al-Kazemi, with special US relations, depends on his agreement to negotiate a new deal with Washington on the US presence in Iraq.

On the other hand, the report reveals that the Iraqi youth are concentrating on building a less sectarian society, providing tangible jobs and economic benefits, particularly in light of the general dissatisfaction with the Iranian intervention, where Iraqis are trying to restore the relations with the Arab and Western worlds.

The current circumstances should push Washington to support these trends by keeping Iraq away from its battle with Iran, in order to facilitate the task of Iraqi politicians, businessmen and security officials, aimed at maintaining a kind of constructive relationship with the US, the report reads.

The report’s author, director of Iran’s initiative at the Center, Barbara Salvin, indicates that the Iraqi government seeks to maintain diplomatic and economic relations with the US without infuriating its powerful neighbor, Iran, as the US plans to withdraw most of its troops from Iraq this year.

“If Baghdad is forced to choose between Tehran and Washington, it will surely choose Iran. Therefore, it is not in the interest of the US forcing Iraq to make such a choice,” she adds.

Salvin also confirms that Iraq cannot be completely independent from Iran, especially that the two countries share borders of more than 1,400 km and having intense relations with several Iraqi armed groups, expecting the US administration to keep Iraq away from its conflict with Iran by reducing the number of its troops and limiting its role to fighting ISIS and training Iraqi forces.

Although the US, France and Germany expressed their objection towards Iran, when it launched its military satellite, violating UN resolutions, Iran announced that it is willing to launch a second satellite.

Ali Jaafar Abadi, high-ranking officer with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, announced this possible step. In an interview with the Iranian state television, Abadi said: “Our next step is to launch the other satellite as part of our giant project.“

Abadi stressed that the first satellite – Noor 1 – launched on April 22, is used for monitoring, while the mission of the second one will be mainly supporting the Iranian navy efforts.

The US, France and Germany considered the launching of Nour 1 as a violation of Security Council Resolution 2231, issued following the Iranian nuclear agreement in 2015, prohibiting the testing of any ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

On April 23, the US State Department condemned the Iranian practices in the Persian Gulf, especially ships harassment during navigation in the Gulf, describing that as unsafe and unprofessional behavior.

Additionally, the US State Department stressed that Iranian harassment has not started recently in the Gulf, as 22 incidents of harassment conducted by the Iranian naval forces were documented during discussions about Tehran’s nuclear program years ago, in addition to 36 other incidents in 2016.

A statement by the US State Department indicated that the administration of President Donald Trump conducted a comprehensive review of its policy toward Iran, following the failure of the “Iran agreement“ in eliminating the growing threats of Tehran to international peace and security, especially with its continued “dangerous” harassment to US battleships in the Gulf.

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