Ironically, this exertion of power comes just after the Iranian foreign ministry called for a peaceful, political resolution to the sectarian conflict in Yemen, amidst a growing catalogue of attacks by Sunni militants, chiefly Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The Houthi’s former dependence on Iranian training and financing seems to suggest that Tehran would have been capable of reining in the group’s activities if it genuinely wanted to. But in absence of a firm Houthi hold on Sanaa, a political solution would be unlikely to favor Iranian interests in the Sunni majority country.
Opponents of the Iranian regime are much more likely to view the foreign ministry’s appeal as an effort to legitimize its interference in foreign country’s affairs than as a genuine appeal for compromise. And many of those same opponents may note that the current policies of some Western countries toward the Islamic Republic have tacitly encouraged those efforts.
Krauthammer writes, for instance, that “the Obama administration appears to be ready to acquiesce to the new reality of Iranian domination of Syria,” where Tehran’s support for the Assad regime has helped to weaken and displace the country’s moderate rebels while contributing to the ascendance of the Islamic State as the primary adversary to Iran’s Shiite interests.
This is a direct parallel of the situation in Yemen, where the growth of Iran-backed forces has led to a proportionate growth of Al Qaeda. Krauthammer notes that with the US-aligned Yemeni government now deposed, “it’s not clear if we can even maintain our embassy in Yemen, let alone conduct operations against AQAP.”
This increases the threat posed by Sunni militants against the United States and the West as a whole. But Krauthammer also emphasizes that the growth of Iranian hegemony in the region poses a threat to Western interests in its own right. In large part this is because that hegemony creates an existential threat to Israel and to the United States’ Arab allies in the region.
The Center for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America clarifies that Iran appears to be engaged in “geopolitical pincer” maneuver against its regional adversaries. Yemen is a key part of this, and when Iran’s influence there is paired with its virtual control over Syria and Iraq, one can see that Iranian proxies are beginning to encircle Iran’s closest enemy, Saudi Arabia. And as Yemen opens up direct Iranian access to the Red Sea, it increases Iran’s strategic pressure against Israel as well.
CAMERA goes on to point out that Iran’s sworn commitment to the destruction of the state of Israel may further help it to expand its regional influence, by appealing to the current government of Turkey. Shared anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic goals may thus help to overcome the Sunni-Shiite divide and other issues that have intermittently strained relations between the two powers.
CAMERA suggests that current reporting on Middle Eastern issues ignores this broader context and diminishes awareness of Iran’s clearly outlined regional goals. For that matter, critics of the Iranian regime worry that Iran’s domestic and global goals are being similarly ignored. Some have taken the opportunity to point to the possible assassination of Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman as a reminder of those goals and their connection to Iran-sponsored global terrorist activities.
In an article that also calls attention to the accumulating questions in the case of Nisman’s death, Legal Insurrection points out the Iranian government figures identified by Nisman as being responsible for the Argentine-Israeli Mutual association bombing in 1994 “weren’t rogue operators but members of the country’s political elite.”
The article also points out that one of these, then-president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani has been re-branded as a moderate by many in the West, and that he is purported to be a mentor to current President Hassan Rouhani, also embraced as a moderate over the objections of commentators who see no actual evidence of moderation in his record.
“Iran’s revolutionary government is lawless,” Legal Insurrection declares, arguing that the kind of support for terrorism highlighted by Nisman is endemic to the Iranian regime. The article suggests that US policymakers keep this in mind as the Obama administration works to secure a nuclear deal with Iran while possibly looking the other way on many of the Islamic Republic’s regional intrusions and endorsements of sectarian conflict.