To Iran’s enemies, the meeting marked the culmination of their worst nightmares. It was a moment marking Iran’s victory in ensuring its friends and allies now control a swath of territory spanning the northern edge of the Arab world, from the borders of Iran to the Mediterranean Sea.
In many ways, that meeting on the border, posted online by the media unit of the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah in November, was the defining moment of 2017. It marked Iran’s resurgence, and, in turn, the failure of American foreign policy. For a US President who vowed to take on Iran and undo his predecessor’s steps towards a rapprochement, Donald Trump has unintentionally enabled the Islamic Republic’s rise.
Trump promised that defeating ISIS would be his top priority in the region, and US forces have been critical in achieving that goal. But beyond that one priority, US policy in the region is a dog’s breakfast of confusion and contradiction that has surprised and alienated US allies and played into the hands of Washington’s foes.