For the Iranian regime, influence means being involved in the various conflicts throughout the Middle East. Evidence has been found that Iran funds Hezbollah, a terrorist organization that is continuing to gain political power in Lebanon. There is also evidence of Iran’s influence with the Houthi rebels in Yemen, a conflict that continues to grow and deepen the humanitarian crisis in that country.
The U.S. Mission to the UN has also documented evidence that the Houthi rebels held a meeting with representatives from Hezbollah, indicating that the influence of Iran is continuing to grow. The international community needs to be mindful of how the arm of Iranian influence is growing in the region and the impact that could have as the U.S. attempts to strangle the Iranian regime economically.
Impact of the meeting on the region
While Iranian officials were not technically present at the meeting of these two groups, it is clear that Iran ties them together. The regime provides funding and weapons to each of the groups in varying degrees. Plus, there is continued efforts by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to provide training to various members of these groups, giving them the tools to engage in urban warfare.
Into this atmosphere, the U.S., under the Trump administration, appears to be moving forward with plans to renew and increase sanctions against the Iranian regime. There is the potential for backlash from countries within the Middle East, who may choose to side with their ally instead of abiding by the sanctions.
Additionally, the U.S. could also be drawn further into conflicts in the region as it sets itself on a collision course with the regime.
Challenge to the international community
For those involved in the Trump administration’s foreign policy, it can be difficult to find a path forward in the Middle East. Ties are being bound through terrorist activities sponsored by Iran and its religious regime. These actions are also allowing these groups to create political power, while also producing a loyalty to the regime.
In the meantime, the Iranian resistance continues to point out how the regime’s human rights violations are being ignored by the international community, most particularly Europe.
The U.S. has left the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and increased their sanctions in response to human rights abuses, but Europe is determined to save the agreement. As a result, they have been lax in sanctioning Iran for these abuses.
One of these abuses is the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, which has been largely ignored by the international community, even though groups continue to point to evidence that those responsible are now part of the Iranian government.
“For three decades, the international community has been silent over the massacre of political prisoners,” said Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a coalition of Iranian resistance groups. “As a result, the mullahs have continued with impunity to violate human rights in Iran,…Now, the time has come to end this silence.”
She called on the UN Security Council to investigate the massacre and to hold the regime to account. With meetings of groups backed by Iran continuing, it means the international community will have more to hold the regime accountable for in the months to come.