As Washington struggles to deal with the changing Arab World in the wake of this year’s uprisings, Iran is doing all it can to manipulate the changing regional dynamics, too, but in its favor instead.
According to a recent report, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) transferred new lethal weapons to its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent months in an effort to quicken the pace of U.S. withdrawal. Indeed, the attacks in Iraq in June that killed 15 U.S. servicemen, the highest monthly casualty over the last two years, are attributed to Shiite militias trained by the IRGC as opposed to the Sunni militants that were largely responsible for deadly attacks inside Iraq a few years ago.
Syrian President Bashar al-Asad (L) and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
According to U.S. officials, Tehran is also growing its influence in “Arab Spring” countries by increasing its intelligence and propaganda activities in Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen – pro-U.S. countries whose leaders have either fallen or come under pressure. In Egypt in particular, Iran is reportedly “attempting to influence the political process…through efforts to connect with the Muslim Brotherhood,” according to the head of IDF Military Intelligence Maj.- Gen. Aviv Kochavi. He also noted that aside from Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen, Iran is working in Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Iraq, and Gaza “to deepen their infiltration into states and organizations in the region.”
Meanwhile, U.S. officials confirmed last April that Tehran is helping its ally Syrian President Bashar al-Asad quell the popular uprising gripping his country. And finally, who could forget that Iran continues to develop its nuclear program, every day posing a greater threat to Israel, Arab countries, and the West.
Iranian meddling is reaching new heights, partly because of the window of opportunity opened by the Arab uprisings this year as well as U.S. plans to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan before leaving the countries with strong, stable governments. Indeed, Washington must now proceed with caution when dealing with both the countries facing revolution, and the Iraq and Afghan wars.