President Trump’s go-to policy on Iran, the “maximum pressure” campaign, has been based on blaming Iran for every single thing that goes wrong in the region, and threatening to make them pay, as Trump put it today, “a very BIG PRICE!”
The threats hadn’t accomplished anything, despite confidence from the administration that they eventually will. Instead, they seem to have brought US ties with neighboring Iraq to the verge of collapse, with the US attacking Iraqi militia Ketaib Hezbollah, presenting them as “Iranian,” and then threatening more attacks.
Sunday attacks on bases inside Iraq led to protests at the US Embassy in Baghdad. The embassy was stormed, and the US responded by blaming Iran some more, and threatening to make them pay. Because that’s the sum total of the maximum pressure campaign.
But that campaign against Iran is bringing US ties with Iraq to the brink of outright collapse, with influential Iraqi politicians at the protests and warnings that US attacks and sovereignty violations are forcing Iraq to revise the relationship.
Making America’s policy around the Middle East so Iran-centric, and making the Iran policy so one-note and bellicose, they have made relations and interests across the Middle East vulnerable not just to thinks Iran actually did, but to anything that officials perceive as Iran’s fault.
It is also exposing the US position in the Middle East as hollow and surprisingly unable to adapt to even minor issues. There are troops in Syria trying to steal oil, troops in Turkey facing the risk of expulsion, and Iraq’s parliament is probably going to be addressing kicking the 5,000 US troops out of there before long at this rate.
All the US has to show for it is the hostility to Iran that they’ve always had, and threats to escalate that into another disastrous war. Everything else in the region is tenuous, and as shown in Iraq can be mucked up by a long weekend of bad policy decisions.