Former U.S. Top Intelligence Officer: Iran is Filling the Void in Syria and Iraq

An Iranian military truck carries a smart bomb during a parade on the occasion of the country's Army Day, on April 18, 2017, in Tehran. / AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

The former Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency David Shedd has revealed that the Iranian Regime is taking advantage of the power vacuum left by ISIS across the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Iraq, Huffington Post reports.

Shedd, who served on the National Security Council under George W. Bush, revealed that he was deeply concerned by the narrow focus on defeating ISIS which failed to take into account that other oppressive regimes, like Iran, could and would exploit the void to take power for themselves.

“The president has done the right thing by delegating additional authorities to the generals in terms of taking military actions against ISIS. I’m concerned, however, that notwithstanding the battlefield successes that Bashar al-Assad seems to be getting stronger and he’s ensuring his consolidation of power with Russian and Iranian support. I’m also concerned about the outlook six months from now in Iraq in terms of the Iranian presence, as the Shi’ite victories are solidified in Iraq against ISIS as well,” he said.

Shedd expressed concern that the Iranian regime was exhibiting more power in both Syria, where they are propping up the Assad dictatorship and massacring the Syrian people, and Iraq, where they “helped” the Iraqi government to wage war against the Kurds following the independence referendum.

“So this is a tricky one, in that the administration has loosened the rules of engagement against ISIS, but it’s failed yet to develop a strategic policy that fills the void, and now that void appears to be getting filled by Iranians and Russians and by extension the Syrian regime. In the case of Iraq, I’m very concerned about the Iranian militancy growing in strength and influence in terms of the territory, leaving aside the issue of the Kurds’ drive for autonomy,” he explained.

Shedd, who also served as Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Policy, Plans, and Requirements, would very much welcome a policy that looked at the wider implications in the Middle East to prevent the Iranian Regime being able to consolidate power and take over the region.

“I don’t want to minimize that success when it comes to their approach to taking on ISIS, which has been to delegate authorities for many of those decisions to commanders in the battlefield associated with making those decisions. But that doesn’t obviate the need for a comprehensive strategy in areas where Iran and its allies have been gaining strength,” he said.

Just over two months ago, the head of the Israeli Mossad also warned that as the Islamic State terrorist group is beaten back, Iran and its proxies are rushing in to take over its territory.

“The areas where Daesh [an Arabic term for ISIS] presence is decreasing, Iran is working to fill the void,” Mossad chief Yossi Cohen said.

Israeli security officials have warned that Tehran may use the area of western Iraq and eastern Syria as a “land bridge” connecting the Islamic Republic to Lebanon, through which it can move fighters and weaponry.

Cohen said Iran is also taking over territory for itself and its proxies in Lebanon and Yemen.

At the same time, former top U.S. diplomat Henry Kissinger has warned the Trump administration that Iran should not be allowed to fill the power vacuum that will be created when the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) is defeated.

Kissinger, who served as secretary of state under Richard Nixon, has cautioned that defeating ISIS could lead to a “radical Iranian empire” across the Middle East.

“In the contemporary Middle East, the enemy of your enemy may also be your enemy. The Middle East affects the world by the volatility of its ideologies as much as by its specific actions. The outside world’s war with ISIS can serve as an illustration. Most non-ISIS powers- including Shia Iran and the leading Sunni states-agree on the need to destroy it. But which entity is supposed to inherit its territory? A coalition of Sunnis? Or a sphere of influence dominated by Iran? If the ISIS territory is occupied by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards or Shia forces trained and directed by it, the result could be a territorial belt reaching from Tehran to Beirut, which could mark the emergence of an Iranian radical empire,” he wrote.