As the U.S.-led coalition continues the exorcism of ISIS from Iraq, the unanswered question remains; how will the U.S. deal with the infestation of Iraq, and its perimeter, by Iran?
Much to the delight of Iraq’s dominantly Shia-populated leadership, former U.S. President Obama’s abandonment of Iraq created a power vacuum which Iran eagerly filled. It’s well known that Russia support of the Assad Regime (Syria) is a strategic necessity given that their only Naval Base – outside of the Black Sea – for Mediterranean access is at the Port of Tartus (Syria) and it’s not likely that Putin will give it up without a fight.
Iran, on the other hand, wants direct pipeline access to the terminals in Turkey and, as an extension of this ambition, they’re actively pursuing a course thru the Kurdish territories of Northern Iraq. It should be remembered that the U.S. has previously pledged support for the Kurd’s and if the U.S. intends to honor that pledge, rest assured a direct confrontation (with Iran) is inevitable.
Principally, for economic reasons, Russia clearly does not want direct-conflict with the U.S., but they have no issue with Iran doing the work for them. Iran has quickly positioned itself as a front-line player in the Middle-East power-struggle. Their brazen support of Hezbollah Militias in Iraq, Syria, Kurdistan and Lebanon, in addition to their provisioning of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Iraq and Syria, is an asymmetrical force-multiplier that must not be ignored.
Iran, I assure you, believes that with the U.S. busied with the mess in N. Korea, the time is right for expanding their footprint in the evolving conflict; their hubris, misjudgment, and shallow resources, as seen in the Iran-Iraq war, is their most predictable weakness.
Trumps vocal objections to but not-yet-ready-to-cancel Obama Nuke Deal strategy, illustrates to me, the Presidents incredible patience for allowing events to mature vs. responding impulsively which is rarely if ever a favorable component of a surgical and/or tactically precise exercise.
I believe that there will be a pretext established, aimed a rallying global support for dealing with both Iran and N. Korea. I expect it to, in part, be their joint-actions in developing weapons-grade material, joint development of ballistic and guidance technology (with the help of Russia and China), aimed at arming both Countries with deliverable Weapons of Mass Destruction.
I see no scenario where trading threats from either/both Iran and/or N. Korea offers a rational outcome for anyone.
Curtis C. Greco, Founder