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Countering Iranian Influence in Syria and Iraq: Three Possible Paths

Monday, May 14, 2018

Washington, D.C.– President Trump’s decision to exit the Iran nuclear deal makes it even more urgent and necessary for the United States to develop a regional strategy to cope with Tehran’s ambitions in the Middle East.

A new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Managing Disorder in the Middle East offers three strategic policy options for the United States to address Iran’s destabilizing regional behavior.

The report, U.S. Policy Toward Iran: Strategic Options, concludes that if the United States were to pull up stakes and leave Syria, pro-Iranian elements would gain a greater foothold and Iran would be able to position forces and advanced weapons on the borders of American allies.

If the United States were to pull up stakes and leave Syria, pro-Iranian elements would gain a greater foothold 

Task Force members have different views on which strategic option would be most effective, but all the options converge on the need for U.S. leadership and long-term engagement in the region.

“Iran poses a significant challenge to the regional order of the Middle East, and directly threatens U.S. allies across the region. Returning some measure of stability to the increasingly fractured Middle East—a vital and enduring U.S. national security interest—requires confronting the spread of Iranian influence,” Eric Edelman, task force co-chair and former undersecretary of defense for policy, said.

“Iran’s regional behavior is destabilizing, threatening both U.S. interests and allies. The United States has to meet this challenge with a far more comprehensive policy than it has so far pursued. To protect U.S. interests, Washington must now pick a course and pursue it systematically,” Jake Sullivan, task force co-chair and former director of policy planning at the State Department, said.

Edelman, Sullivan, and other members of the task force will discuss Iran strategy at the Bipartisan Policy Center at 10 a.m. today. 

KEYWORDS: BLAISE MISZTAL, ERIC EDELMAN, IRAN, JAKE SULLIVAN, PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SYRIA, TASK FORCE ON MANAGING DISORDER IN THE MIDDLE EAST