The end result
In Teheran, Iranian leaders have made clear that they believe they are the big winners from America's involvement in Iraq. "The kind of service that the Americans, with all their hatred, have done us — no superpower has ever done anything similar," Mohsen Rezai, secretary-general of the powerful Expediency Council that advises the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei, boasted on state television recently.
"America destroyed all our enemies in the region. It destroyed the Taliban. It destroyed Saddam Hussein… The Americans got so stuck in the soil of Iraq and Afghanistan that if they manage to drag themselves back to Washington in one piece, they should thank God. America presents us with an opportunity rather than a threat — not because it intended to, but because it miscalculated. They made many mistakes".
Iran also watched with pleasure as America, Britain, France and Germany failed to persuade Russia and China to sign up to a package of sanctions against Iran in a draft United Nations Security Council resolution. The West wanted to punish Tehran for pushing ahead with banned uranium enrichment for its nuclear programme. The US is now drawing up plans for a diplomatic "coalition of the willing" to pursue sanctions outside UN auspices.