MESOP Analysts: Iran assistance to Baghdad could complicate U.S. restabilization efforts

28.6.2014 –  Following Wednesday reports that Tehran is pouring assets into Iraq, analysts are raising concerns that Iranian efforts in the country, which in recent weeks has seen Sunni extremists overtake portions of the country, could complicate U.S. moves aimed at restabilizing the Iraq. Ephraim Kam, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies and a former colonel in colonel in the research division of IDF Military Intelligence, on Thursday warned that increased Iranian involvement will harden sectarian divisions in the country, amid the ongoing seizure of Iraqi territory by Sunni fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, predicted that Tehran will “fan the flames of sectarian war in both Syria and Iraq… [and] reflexively try to find common ground with jihadists in anti-American rhetoric.” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs analyst Pinhas Inbari emphasized that – more broadly – the Iranians and Americans are fundamentally split on the strategic level, contrasting Washington’s efforts to establish a robust Iraqi central government with the Iranian preference for “Iraq to become a subservient client state.”