Iran’s Ayatollahs Continue to Cause Mayhem Across the Middle East

It is, perhaps, the worst kept secret in Washington that U.S. President Donald Trump will later this week announce that America is about to enter a new era of confrontation with Iran, Telegraph reports.

The president will herald his new approach by announcing that he is not prepared to certify that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal which was supposed to end decades of hostility over the ayatollahs’ obsession with developing nuclear weapons. But to understand why Trump is so determined to adopt a more confrontational stance with Iran, it is important to look beyond the narrow confines of the nuclear deal, and at the malign influence Tehran continues to exercise throughout the Middle East.

The root of Trump’s ire with Iran is that the ayatollahs have made little effort to embrace the spirit of cooperation and constructive engagement with the West the agreement was supposed to engender. Instead of defusing regional tensions, the Iranians have simply used the billions of dollars of largesse they have received from the lifting of sanctions to intensify their efforts to cause yet more regional mayhem.

Although the Russians get all the credit for turning the tide of the Syrian conflict, allowing Bashar al-Assad to claim victory, none of this would have happened had it not been for the dramatic intervention of Qassem Suleimani, the Revolutionary Guards commander who flew to Moscow in the summer of 2014 and persuaded Vladimir Putin to launch his game-changing military intervention.

Iran’s success in turning the tables in Syria has also resulted in Tehran increasing its support for Hezbollah, whose sole raison-d’être is to threaten Israel’s northern border. Further afield, Iranian agents have been active in trying to undermine pro-Western states such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The malevolent hand of Iran is also to be found in Yemen, where the continuous shipment of weapons by the Revolutionary Guards to anti-government Houthi rebels has been a significant factor in that hapless country’s descent into chaos.

To this roll-call of shame must be added Iran’s continued meddling in Iraq, through which it still entertains ambitions of building a superhighway of Shia influence that stretches from Tehran to the eastern Mediterranean.

Trump’s decision to decertify Iran over the nuclear deal must therefore be seen in the context of Iran’s continued hostility towards the US and its allies. Iran’s persistent aggression against key allies such as Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Israel is simply a recipe for further political instability.

The impending escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran should also serve as a wake-up call to those British policymakers, particularly in the Foreign Office, who still believe that Britain’s long-term interests would be better served by tilting towards Tehran than standing by our traditional allies in the Gulf.

The fallacy of this proposition is evident in the ayatollahs’ appalling treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British charity worker who has been jailed for five years on trumped up spying charges, and now faces a further 16 years in prison after the Iranian authorities this week said she is to face fresh charges.

This is not the conduct of a government that is serious about improving relations with the outside world. It is the behaviour of a regime that, with or without nuclear weapons, remains deeply hostile to the West and its allies.