“Unless the US does act far more decisively, Iran seems likely to be the de facto winner of the US invasion of Iraq,” the report says. “It now enjoys deep ties in a neighboring country with which it once fought a fierce and bloody eight-year war.
With U.S. troops now gone from Iraq, Iran is going to try to exert its own influence over Iraq and diminish the U.S. presence there.
“This competition between the US and Iran has reached a critical stage as the U.S. prepares to withdraw its military forces and drastically scale down its aid program,” the report states. “The advancement of Iranian ambitions following the US withdrawal depends on how successful U.S. efforts are in building an enduring strategic partnership with Iraq.”
As U.S. troops left the country, Cordesman wrote that President Obama “sharply understate[d]” the challenges and need for the U.S. to compete with Iran.
The report cited the new Sunni-Shiite conflict between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, which exploded just a day after the last U.S. troops left the country.
Read the full report here.