Nuclear deal would free Iran attention and resources up to escalate destabilizing foreign operations across the region
[ Page 2-3 ]
U.S. policy toward Iran has focused mainly on addressing the nuclear challenge, but it has overlooked the threat posed by Iran’s global revolutionary network. Based on the dual pillars of sanctions and diplomacy, the U.S. nuclear strategy is realistically grounded, well- resourced and run about as effectively as can be expected. However, Iran’s nuclear program is just the tip of a revolutionary spear that extends across the world and that threatens key U.S. interests.
Today, Iran is hoping to cut a nuclear deal that will bring its economy back online. A revived economy is precisely what Iran needs to jump start operations in the Levant, Yemen, Afghanistan, and across the region, that have slowed down significantly due to shrinking operational budgets. Even in an environment of fiscal austerity, Iran continues to pursue a foreign policy agenda that has destabilizing effects on the region, to include the following:
- West Bank and Gaza: Iran continues to provide arms, funds, intelligence, and training to Palestinian terrorist groups, most notably, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Both groups oppose the existence of Israel and commit acts of terrorism to that end.
- Lebanon: Iran’s closest non-state ally is Lebanese Hezbollah, long considered one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations. Iranian force projection around the world depends on Hezbollah operatives and networks, from the front lines in Syria to criminal safe havens in West Africa.
- Syria: Iran’s military intervention in Syria turned the tide of the war and prevented the collapse of the Assad regime. By siding with Assad, Iran has inflamed sectarian divisions across the region, leading to an unprecedented flow of Sunni foreign fighters into Syria and surrounding countries.
- Iraq: Iran has sought to ensure that either Maliki or other pro-Iran Shiite politicians remain in control of Iraq. To counter the spread of the Islamic State, Iran is expanding Shia militia groups such as Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq that operate under Iran’s direction beyond the control of the Iraqi government.
- Bahrain: Iran continues to support Bahraini Shiite dissident groups that seek to overthrow the Bahraini monarchy and replace it with an Islamic republic similar to Iran. Bahraini security officials continue to see signs of Iranian support to local IED attacks.
- Saudi Arabia: Hezbollah of the Hejaz carried out attacks in Saudi Arabia, including the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Dhahran. Iran continues to stir up Shia dissident groups in eastern Saudi Arabia, and Saudi leaders generally recognize Iran as a subversive force in Syria, Lebanon, and on Saudi borders in Yemen.
- Yemen: Iran has supplied arms, funds, and probably intelligence to Houthi rebels. Along with Sudan, Yemen has become the center of Iran’s regional platform for covert arms production and distribution. African ports, increasingly seen as effective transshipment point by transnational crime organizations, serve Iran’s objectives elsewhere in the region.
- Afghanistan: Iran has consistently balanced its support for the government in Kabul with material support to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. IAN-controlled networks on both sides of the Iran-Afghan border facilitate the illegal flow of men, money, and materiel.