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‘Donald Trump has consistently increased tensions and courted confrontation with Iran.’ Iranians burn a US flag in Tehran on Friday. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

The Trump administration’s assassination on Thursday of General Qassem Suleimani could turn out to be its biggest foreign policy blunder. The killing could lead to a war with Iranian proxies across the Middle East, belying Trump’s supposed desire to extricate the US from its endless conflicts. But its most likely immediate effect will be to ratchet up pressure on the Iraqi government to expel US troops from Iraq. And that would mean Iran extending its already substantial influence over Iraqi government and society.

The Trump administration was quick to portray the assassination as a pre-emptive strike, saying Suleimani had been “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of Iraq's pro-Iranian al-Hashd al-Shaabi group and protesters set ablaze a sentry box outside the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on 31 December 2019. AHmad al-Rubaye/Agence France Presse

For the past three months, a popular uprising has swept Baghdad and the southern governorates of Iraq. Its call for profound institutional reform, chiefly an end to corruption, has galvanised repeated spasms of protest in the past. This time, however, the movement is larger, more widespread and of longer duration. Authorities have met the demonstrations with severe violence, killing more than 450 and injuring thousands. The main perpetrators of the violence are Iran-backed paramilitary groups, part of a larger assembly of “popular mobilisation” forces (al-Hashd al-Shaabi) that legally are integrated into the state apparatus but in reality answer to their own separate command structures.…  Seguir leyendo »

On May 30, Iraqi special forces stormed the southern edge of Falluja under U.S. air cover, launching a new assault to recapture one of the last major Iraqi cities under the control of Islamic State militants.

Iraq’s elite forces who are leading the fight have been trained by U.S. advisers, but many others on the battlefield were trained or supplied by Iran. It’s the latest example of how Washington has looked the other way as Iran deepened its military involvement in Iraq over the past two years.

In recent weeks, thousands of Iraqi soldiers and Shi’ite militia members supported by Iran assembled on the outskirts of Falluja for the expected attack on the Sunni city.…  Seguir leyendo »

Recent gains by Islamic State in Iraq have raised questions about the viability of the Obama administration’s strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat it. Thus far, President Barack Obama has ruled out the use of U.S. ground forces and opted for a mix of air strikes and arming elements in Iraq that have a vested interest in fighting Islamic State. The results of this approach have been mixed. What has become clear, though, is that to defeat Islamic State, the Obama administration must engage with elements of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, who are increasingly on the front lines battling Islamic State alongside motivated Iraqi forces.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Obama's decision to target militants from ISIS -- which is now calling itself the "Islamic State" or "IS" -- operating in Iraq comes as a huge relief to the Iranians. Officials in Tehran have been panic stricken since ISIS forces overran the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on June 10.

All political factions in Tehran would like to see ISIS suffer and its latest advances rolled back. At the same time, contradictory statements made in Tehran make it clear that the Iranian authorities are divided about the implications of the American military's return to Iraq.

The moderates, the group of people associated with President Hassan Rouhani's presidential administration, are nudging toward an open admission that American military operations in Iraq compliment Tehran's policy goals.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Arab proverb advises, “A problem is solved when it gets tougher.”

Illustrating that point, the advance in Iraq and Syria of the Islamic State poses a threat to the United States while clarifying choices for U.S. policymakers. The question confronting the United States and Iran is no longer whether to work together but how to do so. And in light of decades of distrust and animosity, communications between the two countries can be greatly facilitated by reaching a comprehensive nuclear agreement in talks underway in Vienna. Failure, however, would leave only bad options.

If the Islamic State is to be contained, the United States and other nations will have to reconsider past policies and manage enmities.…  Seguir leyendo »

As the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continues to capture and control more territory in Iraq and Syria, it is important to realize what is at stake in the region and for the American people.

The challenge that ISIS poses is not just to Iraq's stability but also to U.S. security. ISIS is a terrorist group with their own army and bank account that has a clear and growing ability to conduct terrorist attacks against the Iraqi government, Americans and U.S. interests, and even the U.S. homeland.

ISIS, although loosely affiliated with al Qaeda, is in many respects even more extreme in its methods and its brutality than the terrorists who plotted and carried out 9/11.…  Seguir leyendo »

America and Iran Can Save Iraq

To save Iraq from Sunni extremists, Iran is mobilizing its allies in Iraq and promoting collaboration between Iraq’s government and Syria. Washington, meanwhile, has dispatched military advisers to Baghdad. On their own, these efforts are valiant. But without coordination, they won’t be fruitful.

Iraq was until recently a battleground between Iran and the United States. A string of American military commanders battled Gen. Qassim Suleimani, head of foreign operations for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards, for influence. At the height of the American occupation, Iran’s handful of men in Iraq wielded more power than the 150,000 American forces stationed there.

Despite their largely adversarial past, the two countries can now save Iraq if they act together.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, June 14, 2014. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

The growing disaster in Iraq has triggered anguished debate over two fundamental questions: What went wrong? And what do we do about it?

Surprisingly, many people who disagree vehemently about the former question (in particular, whether President George W. Bush or President Obama is more to blame) agree on the latter. Thus Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who has consistently attacked the Obama administration for its foreign policy, suggests that the United States should work with Iran to counter the rapid advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). That idea was also advanced by Secretary of State John F.…  Seguir leyendo »

Barack Obama recibió de su predecesor, George W. Bush, una herencia bélica envenenada. Aunque distinguiera entre Irak como una guerra "elegida" y Afganistán como una guerra "necesaria", en ambos casos prometió la retirada.

La primera retirada ya ha tenido lugar, y seguramente ha sido mucho más honrosa de lo que Obama jamás pudo imaginar. La retirada de Irak no salva el desastre que fue la invasión ni convalida la pérdida consiguiente de vidas, como tampoco deja detrás una democracia estable, pero permite pasar una difícil página, reducir costes presupuestarios en época de crisis y, sobre todo, permitir a la Administración de Obama centrarse en su verdadero objetivo estratégico: Asia-Pacífico.…  Seguir leyendo »

Al tiempo que la Administración Bush cuenta los meses que le quedan de mandato, lo cierto es que se ha embarcado en un par de derroteros que, en caso de seguirse hasta el final, condicionarán de raíz las intenciones y propósitos de la administración Obama o McCain y atormentarán a Estados Unidos durante años.

El primero consiste en solidificar - literalmente, a base de hormigón- nuestra ocupación de Iraq. Pese a la frecuente oposición de políticos experimentados y numerosas resoluciones prohibitorias del Congreso, hemos construido una serie de bases permanentes para albergar a nuestras tropas y mantenerlas allí. Cosa que constituye una equivocación y, además, es contraria a los intereses nacionales de Estados Unidos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por Augustus Richard Norton, profesor de Antropología y Relaciones Internacionales en la Universidad de Boston (REAL INSTITUTO ELCANO, 16/03/07):

Tema: Al analizar la historia estadounidense resulta muy difícil encontrar decisiones presidenciales tan mal fundadas y contraproducentes como la de invadir y ocupar Irak en 2003. Ahora la cuestión es ver si EEUU agravará aún más su tremendo error estratégico decidiendo atacar a Irán.

Resumen: Se avecinan desafíos para EEUU con respecto a Irán, así como en Líbano y Palestina. La suerte del declarado pero vacío empeño de la Administración Bush de promover la reforma política y la democracia en Oriente Medio también pende de un hilo.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Gary Younge (THE GUARDIAN, 19/02/07):

On December 20 1954, a woman known as Marion Keech gathered her followers in her garden in Lake City, Illinois, and waited for midnight, when flying saucers were supposed to land and save them from huge floods about to engulf the planet.Keech had received news of the impending deluge from Sananda, a being from the planet Clarion, whose messages she passed on to a small group of believers. Unbeknown to her, the group had been infiltrated by a University of Minnesota researcher, the social psychologist Leon Festinger.

As dawn rose on December 21 with no flying saucer in sight, Keech had another revelation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por Francis Fukuyama, politólogo estadounidense y autor de After the Neocons, obra a la que pertenece este extracto. Publicada por Profile Books, será editada próximamente en España por Ediciones B. (EL MUDNO, 16/02/07):

En la actualidad, Estados Unidos gasta en solitario la misma suma de dinero que todo el resto del mundo junto en su aparato militar. Por tanto, merece la pena reflexionar sobre las razones por las que resulta que, después de casi cuatro años de esfuerzo bélico, de la pérdida de miles de vidas norteamericanas y de un desembolso de alrededor de medio billón de dólares, EEUU no ha conseguido pacificar un pequeño país, como Irak, de unos 24 millones de habitantes, y mucho menos aún conducirlo hacia algo que se parezca remotamente a una democracia con futuro.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Simon Tisdall (THE GUARDIAN, 31/01/07):

US officials in Baghdad and Washington are expected to unveil a secret intelligence "dossier" this week detailing evidence of Iran's alleged complicity in attacks on American troops in Iraq. The move, uncomfortably echoing Downing Street's dossier debacle in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, is one more sign that the Bush administration is building a case for war.

Nicholas Burns, the senior US diplomat in charge of Iran policy, says Washington "is not looking for a fight" with Tehran. The official line is that Washington has made a conscious decision to "push back" against Iran on a range of fronts where the two countries' interests clash.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por Reza Aslan, investigador iraní residente en Estados Unidos, autor de No god but God, una historia de los orígenes, la evolución y el futuro del islam (EL PAÍS, 24/12/06):

Los miembros del Grupo de Estudio sobre Irak (GEI) han causado bastante revuelo en Washington al insinuar que el triunfo en Irak quizá sea imposible de conseguir sin la ayuda de los vecinos de ese país, en especial Siria e Irán. Los detractores del GEI afirman que quizá sería posible convencer a Siria de que se uniera a la campaña norteamericana para estabilizar Irak, pero, ¿por qué iba a ayudar Irán a Estados Unidos?…  Seguir leyendo »