When US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said on Saturday that Iran is creating and arming a powerful network of proxies in countries like Syria, Yemen, and Iraq, it was nothing new for states in the Middle East. Arab states have long complained of the malicious tentacles of Iran which have been reaching far and wide throughout the region, fomenting strife and propping up proxies to serve its interests. Iran’s main goal is to weaken Arab states so that it can maintain itself as a regional hegemon.
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley also said Iran’s activities were not surprising. In an Op-Ed in the New York Times she wrote: “Since the signing of the nuclear agreement, Iran’s support of dangerous militias has markedly increased. Its missiles are turning up in war zones all across the Middle East.”McMaster also sounded the alarm about how sophisticated Iranian weapons were becoming and went on to say that the time was ripe to act against Iran. This is music to the ears of Arab states who have grown tired of hearing condemnations in the form of rhetoric by several US and European officials about Iran’s destabilising activities.
A nuclear deal secured with Iran with world powers under the Obama administration was supposed to rein in Iran’s maverick nuclear programme. However, the deal, which US President Donald Trump called “the worst deal ever made”, has in fact emboldened Iran, opened up its economy to foreign investment which has expanded its purse strings in order to fund militant proxies. So while the deal, perhaps, well-intentioned, sought to curb Iran’s nuclear power, it has, in the short-term, given Iran more ammunition to create chaos, fund wars and ultimately the Arab people have been paying the price: in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.In fact, the war in Yemen has gotten so out of hand that Iranian-made missiles have been landing in Saudi Arabia for more than a year, the most threatening attack which happened last year where Riyadh was targeted before the missile was intercepted. Saudi Arabia condemned the attack as an “act of war” and called on the international community to hold Iran to account for its weapons smuggling into Yemen. The international community should act immediately at the UN Security Council and hold Iran accountable for such transgressions. World powers should also threaten to pull out of the nuclear accord if such destabilising and aggressive behaviour continues against Arab states.