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Top US general calls for use of ‘military means’ to disrupt Iran

Joseph Votel tells Congress Tehran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East are chief long-term threat to region

US Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel speaks to reporters at the Pentagon, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
US Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel speaks to reporters at the Pentagon, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Iran has increased its destabilizing role in the Middle East and must be dealt with through various means, including military action where appropriate, the top US military commander for the Middle East General Joseph Votel said this week.

In a report to the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday, Votel said Iran was operating in “a gray zone…just short of open conflict” with the US. Its destabilizing activities were “the greatest long-term threat to stability” in the region, he said, and included aid to surrogate groups operating against the US and its allies as well as cyber warfare.

“We need to look at opportunities where we can disrupt through military means or other means their activities,” he said. “We need to look at opportunities where we can expose and hold them accountable for the things that they are doing.”

On Thursday Iran denied regional meddling after Arab leaders condemned “foreign interference” in their affairs in a clear reference to the Islamic republic.

Arab heavyweight Saudi Arabia has been at loggerheads with Iran over the conflicts in Syria and Yemen and political unrest in Bahrain, and the final statement from Wednesday’s Arab summit in Jordan again hit out at Iran, without naming it.

But Tehran insisted that it does not “intervene in the domestic affairs of other countries” and claimed that some Arab leaders were attempting to demonize Iran in place of the true enemy — “the Zionist regime.”

AFP contributed to this report.

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