The Obama Administration is struggling to figure out their narrative on the ongoing ISIS war in Iraq, with increased Iranian involvement on the ground, on the same side as the US, complicating their story.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirmed today that the US is “concerned” by Iran’s involvement, which Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) termed as Iran “basically taking over the fight.”
Other administration aides are still trying to spin this as Iran playing into America’s hands, with some bragging that the American war is success “largely because of Iran.”
That’s going to be a tough story to keep pushing, however, with officials simultaneously trying to downplay any links to Iran, even though they’re on the same side in this war, and insisting that they don’t coordinate together under any circumstances.
That lack of coordination has forced Iraq to basically choose between the US and Iran for big missions, and the Tikrit offensive had them choosing Iran, and not involving the US. While the administration may hope to claim “victory” if the Tikrit battle goes well, the bigger risk for the hawks may be the Iraq will increasingly decide that they’re better off with Iran than the US.