By Karl Nicolas Lindenlaub, Strategy Bridge: “In Afghanistan, the United States has reached a strategic crossroads."
Iraqi President Barham Salih nominated a new prime minister on Saturday after squabbling rival parties failed to find a successor for Adel Abdul Mahdi since his resignation in November. Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, a former communications minister in the pro-Shiite government of Nouri al-Maliki, pledged in a televised address to help create a “state of freedom and justice.” But anti-government protesters gathered by the thousands in Baghdad and southern cities to reject him for his ties to the ruling elite. Hours before Allawi's appointment, supporters of populist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr attacked protesters and demanded quick action on setting up a new government. Sadr later said Allawi had been “chosen by the people” and that his appointment was a “good step” for Iraq.
Before the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, most Americans, and even many politicians, probably never even heard his name. But the events leading the US and Iran to this point were decades in the making. In a new Washington Examiner Magazine article, Michael Rubin notes the rise of Soleimani and debunks critics who claim that his death destroyed any possibility of détente with Tehran. Vowing to stop “endless war” is a noble goal, but it was not the US that was waging a unilateral goal against Iran, but rather Iran, in the guise of Gen. Soleimani, that was waging an endless war against the US. Read it here.
Svante Cornell and Brenda Shaffer — FDD Report
Setting policies toward territories involved in protracted conflicts poses an ongoing challenge for governments, companies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Since there are multiple zones of disputed territories and occupation around the globe, setting policy toward one conflict raises the question of whether similar policies will be enacted toward others. Where different policies are implemented, the question arises: On what principle or toward what goal are the differences based? Read More
Behnam Ben Taleblu — The Hill
“More important than a military strike, it was a serious blow to dignity, a blow to the dignity of the U.S. as a superpower.” That’s how Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, described recent missile strikes against bases in Iraq housing American troops during a rare Friday prayer sermon in Tehran last week. Earlier, Khamenei likened the strikes to a “slap” against America. While Iranian officials are no stranger to bombast and invective against the U.S., Iran’s broadcasting of the missile strike, and Khamenei’s repeated touting of it, does not neatly comport with Tehran’s long-established preference for proxy warfare and deniability. Read More
Andrea Stricker — Al Arabiya
Seth J. Frantzman writes: In this view, Iran is the great leader of a mass of fighters across the regional all arrayed against the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and some other states. Iran’s rhetoric seeks to instill in a new generation this imperial impulse to dominate the Middle East via these factions and see them all as not only allies but directed from Tehran. – Jerusalem Post