US official: Iran's regional power strengthened by US in Iraq, Afghanistan

Iran is stronger today because of the US-led invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, the American ambassador to the United Nations said Friday. "It's helped Iran's relative position in the region, because Iraq was a rival of Iran, and the balance there against Iran - and the balance there has disintegrated or weakened," Zalmay Khalilzad said while answering questions from students at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. "And so one of the objectives of Iran, in my view, is to discourage a reemergence of Iraq as a balancer. And Afghanistan, too, the change was helpful to Iran." Khalilzad's boss, President George W. Bush, has called Iran the world's leading state sponsor of terror, sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan and to Shia militants in Iraq. But to Khalilzad, there is no question that an unintended consequence of US decisions in Afghanistan and Iraq has been to strengthen Tehran's position in the Mideast.