The end of New Zealand's military presence in Iraq cannot come soon enough. The 10th and last rotation of NZ Defence Force personnel at camp Taji near Baghdad will finish by June 30 this year.
Their mission, called "building partner capacity", made sense when it began in 2015. The United States and its allies were doing what they could to bolster Iraqi forces against Isis. Now "building partner capacity" seems a hopeless task under a US President who seems hell-bent on fanning the flames of conflict with Iran.
The assassination of Iran's foremost military figure, General Qassem Soleimani, at Baghdad's airport last Friday will have raised tensions in Iraq's Shia majority population as well as further antagonising the people of Iran. Iraqi militia leaders opposed to the US presence were killed in the same airstrike. Iraq's Government, closely allied with Iran, has condemned the airstrike on Iraq's soil and its Parliament has called for all foreign forces to leave.
Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp's elite Quds Force, was the best-known commander of Iran's proxy forces in surrounding countries, including those that helped Syrian President Bashar Assad defeat Isis and rebels supported by the US. He has long been a target of US drones and any President would probably have given the order to shoot when Soleimani was in US sights last Saturday. But not many might have preened themselves publicly with it.
By proclaiming the killing with his characteristic lack of taste and decorum, Trump has needlessly and dangerously added insult to Iran's injury. He has aroused a clamour for vengeance that Iran's leadership will be under pressure to answer.
Iran has threatened reprisals and Trump has been quick to respond, announcing the US had targeted 52 Iranian sites of cultural importance to Iran which would be "hit very fast and very hard" if Iran retaliates.
The number 52 is significant to Americans. It was the number of American hostages held for a year by Iran after the revolution all of 40 years ago. Americans have never been allowed to forget.
But this President will need to be careful. Americans know how the latest tension started. Trump pulled out of a nuclear deal with the West that had been working. Iran had suspended nuclear weapons development and its attitudes had moderated towards the US if not towards Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Trump believes he can frighten Iran into making a better deal for his Middle Eastern allies. But Iran does not appear to be easily bullied. It retaliated to his sanctions by seizing ships and has been blamed for the sabotage of a Saudi oil refinery.
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Trump, meanwhile, has been vacillating between pulling out of the Middle East and supporting Israel's solidification of its occupied territories. He acts impulsively and appears to have to strategy beyond pleasing his domestic audiences.
US policy in the Middle East has become muddled, provocative and dangerous. New Zealand soldiers should be withdrawn without delay.