When it comes to security in the Middle East, there are multiple factors that come into play regarding how the countries within the region interact with each other. Old rivalries for power, as well as divisions based on beliefs, have impacted various nations. However, one of the biggest factors is the reach and influence of the mullahs’ theocracy in Iran.
During the almost 40 years that the regime has been in power, the focus has been to extend the influence of the mullahs, especially the Supreme Leader. Recent actions by the Iranian regime show that they have influenced various neighbors by encouraging divisions and causing political upheavals.
A coalition of Arab states held a meeting at the end of October, where they accused the Iranian Regime and its regional proxies of destabilizing behavior that is negatively impacting the region. The Coalition Supporting the Legitimacy of Yemen denounced Iran’s negative role, particularly the supplying of coup militia groups with weapons, ammo, ballistic missiles, and landmines. This role of arming these groups is a direct violation of the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2216.
The coalition’s official spokesperson, Colonel Pilot Turki bin Saleh al-Maliki, announced that member states condemned these militias for murdering the Yemeni people. He also noted that the actions of these militias had exposed the Yemeni people to famine, fear, and disease, as well as threatened the stability of other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain.
“Terrorist and armed groups cannot possess such powers, especially ballistic and surface-to-surface missiles,” said al-Maliki. He also noted that the coalition condemned the Iranian regime for its sieges of Yemeni cities and looting humanitarian aid, which increased famine and disease in the region.
The representatives of the coalition forces in Yemen also condemned the Iranian regime for using, training, and recruiting children into armed conflict. This systematic child abuse by Iran constitutes a war crime and should be treated as such.
“Iran regime is providing armament and weaponry to the Houthis and (supporters of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Salah),” said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir during the Arab Coalition meeting. “[The Iranian regime] has destroyed the efforts to end the crisis in Yemen at the same time by disrupting talks between the legitimate government [of Yemen] and the militants [of the opposition].”
With pro-government forces reclaiming two-thirds of Yemen, Iranian regime’s involvement in arming and training Houthi militias by elements from Hezbollah.
A report released in March 2017 by Conflict Armament Research revealed that militias are using Iranian aerial drone technology. While the Houthis are claiming they built their own drones, evidence was discovered that proved the drones were Ababil-1 models, which were built by the Iranian regime.
However, there are also historical events that demonstrate Iran’s negative influence in the region. The double bombing in Beirut, which occurred in 1983, resulted in the death of almost 300 individuals, as well as hundreds of injuries. The attack was claimed by the Islamic Jihad, which has links with the Iranian regime. There is evidence that the Supreme Leader Khomeini sent an IRGC commander to help plan these attacks.
A judge in the United States issued orders for the regime to pay damages and interest of more than $800 million to the families of those killed in the Lebanon attack, but the regime continues to file appeals, despite multiple rejections.
Now more than two decades have passed, but the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), who honored and appear to have participated in the planning of that attack, has only just been labeled as a terrorist organization.
This designation finally acknowledges how the IRGC, as a military arm of the Supreme Leader and the regime, has been used to spread terrorism and fundamentalism throughout the region. For the first time, the human rights abuses that the regime has spread throughout the Middle East are being acknowledged and the mullahs are being called out for their behavior against their neighbors.
There is evidence of Iran’s hand in several countries, including Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Yet, despite resolutions by the United Nations, it is clear that the Iranian regime is not intimidated or being cowed into following these resolutions. Instead, they continue to supply these militias with weapons and military training.
The regime is clearly snubbing the international community and its neighbors in the Middle East, almost daring them to stand up to the regime and its military might. Yet, with the United States changing its policy regarding Iran, there is evidence that the regime’s activities will not be tolerated much longer. Additionally, having the IRGC designated as a terrorist organization will negatively impact the financial well-being of the regime over the next few months and years. Will that drive change in Iran? Only time will be able to tell for sure.