Iran is increasing its rhetoric against the US, particularly targeting its forces in Iraq. This, not by accident, comes after the Iran-Saudi reconciliation deal, and also comes amid rumors of a Syria-Turkey deal. Iran, Syria’s regime, Russia and Turkey have routinely opposed the US presence in eastern Syria, but US forces in northern Iraq support the US mission in Syria. Iran now wants the Americans to feel threatened in Iraq.
At a time of uncertainty in the region, and Iran’s threats, what is Tehran saying about Iraq? According to Iran’s Tasnim pro-regime media, the “supreme leader of the Islamic Revolution said in a meeting with the president of Iraq: Americans are not friends with anyone and they are not even loyal to their European friends and even the presence of an American in Iraq is too much.”
Iran's strategy in threatening the US
To threaten the US, Iran did two things: mobilized its militias in Iraq, including groups like Harakat Nujaba, and increased its threatening rhetoric. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited Oman and Lebanon over the last few days, as rumors have been circulating about how Iran will try to influence the election of the new Lebanese president.
Saudi Arabia, which has a historical interest in Beirut, may want to be involved as well. Iran is currently shifting its investments from Yemen to Iraq. It wants to influence Lebanon’s presidency, get the US out of Syria and remove the US from Iraq. In this way, it would create an unimpeded road to the sea via Iraq. This directly threatens Israel because Iran is moving weapons through Aleppo to be transported to Hezbollah via a highway through Homs.
Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid visited Iran for meetings right as Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said this. Rashid said that the Islamic Republic of Iran is very important, and he wants “the expansion of bilateral cooperation and the implementation of the agreements made that are in the interest of both countries.” The ayatollah, in contrast, focuses on the US presence in Iraq.