China and Iran made a deal in which China promised to boost its investment in Iranian infrastructure in exchange for a steady supply of oil. This uptick in Chinese influence does not necessarily erode U.S. power in the region. The United States may even find overlapping interests with China since both have a stake in containing conflicts and instability.
Iran is blaming Israel for a blackout at one of its nuclear research facilities. This attack is likely to complicate nuclear diplomacy and further erode trust between Tehran and Washington. Also, it may only incentivize Iran to advance its nuclear program.
Beijing and Tehran are in the process of finalizing an ambitious partnership covering a range of security and economic issues. The United States should not overreact to shifting geopolitical dynamics in the Middle East, and should instead keep an eye out to assess the evolution of the relationship and take stock of what is delivered instead of what is merely promised.
America's slow-motion retreat in Syria could embolden Iran and Russia and perhaps lead them to underestimate U.S. resolve to protect its interests in the Middle East. Clearer U.S. priorities and more deliberate engagement could reduce risk and help avoid miscalculation.
Israeli involvement in recent attacks on Iran would not be surprising, and more such attacks might be coming. However, Israel's bet that the Iranians will not respond is risky. It's hard to control escalation when things are so volatile, especially as hardline Iranian leaders may increase pressure to retaliate.
Tensions between the United States and Iran reached a boiling point in January 2020, when Iranian-backed forces attacked U.S. military and diplomatic facilities on Iraqi soil, and the United States retaliated. Policymakers and experts again asked: Why are we in Iraq? What would happen if we left, and why would it matter?
Iran is watching closely as the United States and the Taliban negotiate an end to America's operations in Afghanistan. If the expected withdrawal of significant U.S. forces destabilizes Afghanistan, how much will Tehran assert its influence over its neighbor to the east?