Analysts of Iraqi politics Brian Katulis and Matthew Duss point out the "strategic confusion" of Washington's policies toward Iraq and Iran:
Over the past five years, Iran has hedged its bets, maintaining ties and offering support to all of the major Shiite factions in Iraq, including Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army, which fought pitched battles with the Iraqi army and the Badr Corps last month. But Americans should be clear about where Iran's closest allies are in Iraq. They are at the highest levels of the Iraqi government.
With the Iraq war in its sixth year, the United States needs to step back from its current approach in Iraq, which at best could be described as strategic confusion. The United States is working to isolate the Iranian regime internationally through sanctions and threats, yet in Iraq our current policy is working to consolidate the historic expansion of Iran's influence that came as a consequence of the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
It is time for the United States to remove itself from the quagmire in Iraq and begin a phased redeployment of troops. Staying on the current path will only continue to strengthen Iran's position in Iraq and the region, a result that undermines America's national security interests.