The Syrian war’s spillover has called attention to uncomfortable realities for American officials: despite nearly nine years of military engagement, an effort that continues today with a $19 billion weapons sales program, Iraq’s security is uncertain and its alliance with the theocratic government in Tehran is growing. Iraq’s Shiite-dominated leadership is so worried about a victory by Sunni radicals in Syria that it has moved closer to Iran, which shares a similar interest in supporting the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.
Syria’s mess cannot be hermetically sealed off and dealt with as a discrete crisis. It’s less a civil war than the latest episode in a regional sectarian war that was raging in Iraq for much of the past decade. As the balance of power tips toward the Sunnis in Syria, they are looking for a rematch with Iraqi Shiites, pushing the latter into the arms of Iran. Not good.