Iran continuing ‘malign activities’ across region

The head of the United States’ Central Command (CENTCOM) yesterday expressed concern that Iran was continuing provocative actions across the Middle East, as speculation grows over whether or not US President-elect Donald Trump will scrap the nuclear deal with Tehran when he takes office.CENTCOM chief General Joseph Votel said that he had noted an “uptick” in Iranian bad behaviour since the nuclear deal was signed in January, US news site The Hill reported.

Votel said the agreement, which lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear programme feared to be intended to produce atomic bombs, was being “implemented appropriately” but that it has not changed Iran’s behaviour.

Iran, on the other hand, claims that the United States has failed to abide by the terms of the agreement, stating that Washington has yet to lift all the sanctions against Tehran.

However, the US and major international powers are concerned that completely lifting sanctions from Iran immediately will lead to it pouring even more support into destabilising and extremist elements in the Middle East.

The US Congress voted to slap sanctions on Iran in November for its support for the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad, with Republican Congressman Eliot Engel saying: “If you’re acting as a lifeline to the Assad regime, you risk getting caught up in the net of our sanctions.”
US expresses concern over negative Iranian influence

Speaking during a forum hosted by the conservative Foreign Policy Initiative think tank yesterday, General Votel appeared to echo these fears, stating: “I am concerned about continued malign activities of Iran across the region.”

The activities concerning the senior US commander included offensive Iranian cyber activities, the use of proxies and Shia militant organisations, the facilitation of lethal aid to these groups as well as the Assad regime and also Iranian aggression in the Arabian Gulf.

An Iranian naval vessel belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) trained a weapon at a US Navy helicopter last Saturday in the Arabian Gulf.

Votel also expressed that he had severe misgivings over the Iraqi government’s decision to legalise and formalise the Iran-backed, Shia-dominated paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces as a separate and independent military force separate to the regular army.

“It will increase obvious Shia – potentially Iranian – influence over the government of Iraq and we have to be concerned about it,” Votel commented.

Iraq is widely considered to be dominated and controlled by Iranian influence, as many of its senior politicians lived under Tehran’s protection while former president Saddam Hussein was in power, only to assume all of the country’s top jobs when he was toppled by a US-led coalition in 2003.

 

Source: / middleeastmonitor /

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