Iraq and the US-Iran tug of war

In the space of a few days this week, the United States changed course away from Europe for the Middle East - twice. First, the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group was diverted from its journey to Croatia and dispatched to the Strait of Hormuz. Just days later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blew off a scheduled meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and landed instead in Iraq.

Both moves were portrayed by many media outlets as signs that the drums of war were being beaten louder. The reality is much less ominous, though no less fraught.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2019, with the headline 'Iraq and the US-Iran tug of war'. Subscribe