James Mattis

NCRI Staff

NCRI - Reports are circulating that top Pentagon officials are drawing up plans to curb Iran’s malign influence in the Middle East.

Defense Secretary James Mattis has reportedly asked the Pentagon to come up with plans to use the US military to deter the Iranian Regime from expanding into neighbouring countries (through invasion or proxy groups) and containing them if they are currently there.

One official close to Mattis said: "A lot of thought is being put into Iran."

This comes at the same time that the Trump administration is attempting to put together an international diplomatic and economic coalition that will counter Iran's growing influence across the Middle East.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arranged a meeting with his counterparts in the UK, France and Germany to coordinate a joint mission to counter Iran through diplomatic and economic means.

No one wants a war, but the US does see the threat of allowing Iran's "malign influence" to continue unimpeded.

National Security Advisor HR McMaster recently told a security forum: "What the Iranians have done across the broader Middle East is fuel and accelerate these cycles of violence so that they can take advantage of these chaotic environments, take advantage of weak states, to make them dependent on them for support."

He said that this needed to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Yemen

This week, the assassination of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh as he tried to flee Sanaa, showed the level of Iranian interference in the Middle East.

Saleh was killed by his former allies, the Iran-backed Houthis, just days after he broke ties with them and attempted to restart talks with the Saudi-led coalition. It is believed that the Iranian Regime- scared of how that would affect the balance of power- ordered the hit, as the Houthis would not do anything to disobey the Regime that funds, arms, and trains them.

This type of direct military support can be seen in the remnants of the missile that the Houthis fired at Saudi Arabia last month.

US intelligence analysts believe the missile was made by Iran, as it bears similarities to other Iranian missiles and the Houthis do not have the capability to create one themselves. Iran smuggles the weapons in by sea or through neighbouring Oman, which is why Saudi Arabia closed all access points into the country except for humanitarian aid.

It is also believed that the Iranian Regime ordered the missile launch.

McMaster said: "What we see is the weaponization of Iran's network in Yemen, in southern Lebanon, they are trying to do it in Syria with these long-range missiles and they are increasing the threat that Iran poses to the whole region."

Iraq

McMaster said: "What they are in the middle of doing now is using a sophisticated campaign of subversion in Iraq and a continued support for Assad. About 80% of Assad's fighters are Iranian proxies in Syria to establish this kind of land bridge over into the Mediterranean and so what we face is Iran having a proxy army on borders of Israel."

CIA director Mike Pompeo wrote a note to Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran's Quds Force, because he had threatened US interests in Iraq.

Pompeo said: "What we were communicating to him in that letter is that we will hold him and Iran accountable for any attacks on American interests in Iraq by forces that are under their control.
And we wanted to make sure that he and the leadership in Iran understood that in a way that was crystal clear."