Except that now the United States will be facing down a far stronger Iran, one that has taken advantage of the past six years of turmoil in the Arab world to steadily expand its reach and military capabilities... “In order to confront Iran or push back more fiercely against it, you may find you’re in a conflict far more far-reaching and more destructive to the global economy than many of our allies or American public are willing to bear,”.. Iran’s alleged quest to produce a nuclear weapon — which Tehran has always denied — has been curbed by the nuclear accord signed in 2015. But in the meantime it has developed missiles capable of hitting U.S. bases and allies across the Middle East and a network of alliances that have turned it into the most powerful regional player... For the first time in its history, the Institute for the Study of War noted in a report last week, Iran has developed the capacity to project conventional military force for hundreds of miles beyond its borders. “This capability, which very few states in the world have, will fundamentally alter the strategic calculus and balance of power within the Middle East,” the Institute said... America’s Sunni Arab allies, who blame the Obama administration’s hesitancy for Iran’s expanded powers, are relishing the prospect of a more confrontational U.S. approach. Any misgivings they may have had about Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric have been dwarfed by their enthusiasm for an American president they believe will push back against Iran... But those familiar with Iran’s behavior in the region have said that they do not believe it will readily surrender its gains.“Any pushing back, the Iranians won’t take it lying down,”
.. “We look at America as our first enemy, the source of all evil on the Earth,” he said. “American interests in Iraq are within our sights and our fire range. If they act foolishly, their interests will be wiped out . . . and we can target their bases whenever we want.”
.. Russia controls the skies over Syria, and Turkey wields influence over the rebels, but Iran holds sway on the ground, through its extensive network of Shiite militias drawn from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. They have provided the manpower for front lines from the northern countryside of Aleppo, near the Turkish border, to the Golan Heights bordering Israel in the south.
.. Trump’s promises to curb Iranian influence are at odds with his stated desire to pursue closer cooperation with Russia in Syria and also to support Assad, because Iran is allied with both Assad and Russia
.. Alani sees no reason Trump should not easily be able to contain Iranian influence.
“It is a myth that Iran is strong. The only reason Iran is strong is because of U.S. weakness,” he said. “Iran is very thinly stretched. It will not take a lot to contain Iran.”