Israel’s defense minister on Wednesday warned that Iran, an ostensible partner in the US-led fight against the Islamic State, has nothing but ill intentions toward Iraq and has cynically perpetuated the conflict in order to ensure that the country remains a failed state.
“He who did not allow stability in Iraq since 2003 is Iran,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies’ annual security conference.
“From its perspective, a strong Iraq runs counter to its own interests. From its perspective Iraq needs to be weak, bleeding.”
Ya’alon said that Tehran’s primary goal is to perpetuate the conflict, meaning that it often aids Shiite militias against Sunni forces, and at times, he asserted, has even funded Sunni forces fighting the United States.
“The important thing [to recognize] is that the coalition, as led by the United States, has not be able to stabilize Iraq since 2003,” he said.
“Make no mistake,” he continued, “Iran does not intend to bring a blessing to Iraq.”
Ya’alon admitted that Israel may appear to be “obsessive” in its focus on Iran as a central force of ill in the Middle East, but said that the Islamic Republic is the “center of gravity” in terms of exporting terror around the region. Iran destabilizes states by supporting internal terror with arms, money, training and advice, he said. Iran’s pursuit of regional hegemony, Ya’alon added, brought about the rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the current civil war in Yemen, and may well threaten Bahrain and perhaps even Saudi Arabia in the future.
And yet, he continued, the P5+1 states are set to sign an agreement with Iran that grants it legitimacy as “a threshold nuclear state” without so much as shutting a single nuclear facility or destroying a single centrifuge.
The deal, which may be finalized by the end of June, would grant the regime more money while it continues to develop missiles that cover every inch of Israel and large swaths of Europe and, in the future, the United States, he said.
In the interim, Iran continues to fund terror on Israel’s northern border and in Gaza and the West Bank – where, without Israel’s “daily intervention,” terror would erupt, Ya’alon maintained.
The defense minister also said Hamas, which is still deterred by the “bludgeon” of Operation Protective Edge this past summer, is having trouble rearming.
Sudan, once a port for arms from Iran, has changed sides in the regional conflict and is fighting alongside Saudi Arabia and Egypt in Yemen, against the Iranian-backed Houthis. This has translated into a reality in which the last arms delivery from Iran to Hamas in Gaza was the intercepted Klos-C ship in March 2014.
“That channel [from Sudan] has dried up,” he said.