Iran and Regional Instability

Two incidents which happened in the last few days prompt this piece of writing.

Firstly, the ballistic missile fired on Saturday 4 November, from Yemen towards the international airport of the Saudi capital Riyadh. It was thankfully intercepted and destroyed. But the missile is an open act of aggression.

And Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has accused Iran of this “direct military aggression” saying Iran must have supplied the missile to Houthi rebels because the missile bears the markings of Iran.

Secondly, the oil pipeline fire which broke out on the evening of Friday 10 November, near the village of Buri in Bahrain. It has been, thankfully, extinguished without loss of life. But it is an act of violence and terror.

And Bahrain’s Minister of Interior has stated that it is the latest example of a terrorist act performed by terrorists in direct contact with, and under instruction from, Iran.

So, Iran’s apparent involvement, in both these events, shows us what many Arab countries have been accusing Iran of, over several years.

In fact, last year too, around November, a letter was sent by 11 Arab countries to the United Nations, accusing Iran of being “a State sponsor of terrorism” throughout the entire Middle East; and of only increasing “aggression in the region and the continuation of support for terrorist groups.”

That letter, published on Friday 14 November 2016, by the UN, was signed by the UN ambassadors of Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

In the letter were these words: “We stress that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a State sponsor of terrorism in our region, from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, to Houthis in Yemen and terrorist groups and cells in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Iraq, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and elsewhere”.

I found it pertinent to refer to this one-year-old letter because the accusations have not stopped. Yet.

And Iranian Foreign Policy, if there is one, seems to be aimed only at fomenting strife, increasing violence and creating instability in the region.

In fact, new incidents, like what we are seeing now, are indicative of a complete lack of resolve, on the part of Iranian leaders, to effectively address the accusations; and to proactively make peace with its regional neighbours.

Iran does not have a solid ground to refute accusations that it is meddling in the internal affairs of its neighbours.

A top U.S. Air Force General in the Middle East has confirmed that missiles fired by the Houthis clearly bore “Iranian markings”. The writings on the Houthi Burkan, or “Volcano”, ballistic missile correctly match with those on the Iranian Qiam missile, according to the expert.

An article in ‘Washington Post’ titled “US, Saudi Arabia accuse Iran over Yemen missile launch”, refers to another good information source – a London based group called ‘Conflict Armament Research’.

For example, according to this research group, three dhows were intercepted by the US Navy warships in early 2016, in the Arabian waters. And the dhows were found carrying thousands of Kalashnikov assault rifles, as well as sniper rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, anti-tank missiles and other weapons (Washington Post, 11 November 2017).

The group says that “2,000 new assault rifles with serial numbers in sequential order (are) suggesting they came from a national stockpile.”

And it points to Iran as the illegal supplier of arms to Yemen’s rebels. Even rocket-propelled grenade launchers and drones used by Houthis are found to bear hallmarks of Iran’s  production.

It is time, therefore, that international organizations, and especially the governments of the Middle East and North Africa, must voice stronger protest against Iran’s military aggression and terror-sponsorship. It is time to step up the fight against terror.