Iran is not only the world’s top terrorism sponsor, but it’s support has also grown over the last several years, warned CIA Director Mike Pompeo Saturday.
The Islamic Republic’s influence across the Middle East “has expanded considerably ” in the last six or seven years, said Pompeo during an interview with MSNBC. This influence and support of terrorism makes Iran a threat to national security, he added.
“Whether it’s the influence they have over the government in Baghdad, whether it’s the increasing strength of Hezbollah and Lebanon, their work alongside the Houthis in Iran, the Iraqi Shias that are fighting along now the border in Syria — certainly the Shia forces that are engaged in Syria. Iran is everywhere throughout the Middle East,” said Pompeo.
Because of this malign influence, Iran is playing an increasingly “destructive role” in the region, according to the director.
The fractured nature of the Middle East has allowed Iran to play an increasingly dominant role, one which has its Arab rivals in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf on guard. The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria after the withdrawal of U.S. forces allowed Iran to gain considerable influence of the Popular Mobilization Units, Iraqi militias (mostly Shiite) that were formed in response to the group. Iran has also sent possibly thousands of troops to fight on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a key ally.
Regardless, Iranian leaders continue to blame the U.S. for the region’s woes. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif blasted the U.S. for “unlawful regime-change policy towards Iran.” Zarif’s comments come as Iran continues to support the Houthi rebellion in Yemen, which continues to seek the overthrow of the internationally-supported government.
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