Today, the Islamic State controls just three percent of Iraq after controlling one-third of the country two years ago, but American officials say an old nemesis in the region continues to stoke tensions inside the country, creating another immediate challenge once ISIS is defeated.
After the fall of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and the evacuation of Kurdish fighters, the U.S. military must figure out how to keep Iraq from breaking apart while also preventing Iran from turning its neighbor into a proxy state.
“Nearly every threat to peace and security in the Middle East is connected to Iran’s outlaw behavior,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Wednesday.
The Shia-led government in Baghdad welcomed Iran’s help when ISIS swept through Iraqi cities three years ago. Now Iran is flexing its muscle in Iraq, putting the U.S. in the middle of a potential three-way civil war involving Shias, Sunnis and Kurds.
“Now the Iranians are going to start demanding that we leave Iraq, that we leave Syria and the whole region becomes essentially a vassal state of theirs just like Lebanon has become,” said James Jeffrey, U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2010-2012. – READ MORE[contentcards url=”http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/10/18/iran-filling-vacuum-following-isis-defeat-in-iraq.html” target=”_blank”]