By George Friedman
Washington must choose sides.
Last week, Iran confirmed that it test-fired a ballistic missile. The United States has responded by imposing new sanctions on Iran and stating that Iran remains both a major source of terrorism and a threat to American national interests. A review is now underway concerning U.S. policy toward Iran. At the same time, President Donald Trump has declared his intention of crushing the Islamic State, which has been U.S. policy since the emergence of IS.
U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn speaks during the daily press briefing as Press Secretary Sean Spicer (L) looks on at the White House in Washington, on Feb. 1, 2017. Flynn signaled a more hardline American stance on Iran, condemning a recent missile test and declaring he was “officially putting Iran on notice.” NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. strategy in Iraq prior to the 2007 surge was to oppose both Shiite and Sunni claims to power in Iraq. The United States tried to craft a government in Baghdad that was independent of both major factions, ideally secular and closely aligned with the United States. That government was created, but it was never effective. The Shiites, supported by the Iranians, deeply penetrated the government, and more importantly, the government never had broad support beyond the coalition that backed it. The most dynamic forces in Iraq were deeply embedded in the Shiite and Sunni communities. Both drew strength from outside Iraq – the Sunnis from Saudi Arabia and the Shiites from Iran.