tehran’s missile development a concern for neighbors
Last Updated : GMT 23:56:10
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Tehran’s missile development a concern for neighbors

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Tehran’s missile development a concern for neighbors

Washington - Arab Today

One of Washington’s oldest and most prestigious think tanks, the Middle East Institute, organized a conference Wednesday titled “Challenges in US Iran Policy.”
It included three panels featuring a diversity of analysts, scholars and former government officials, as well as a keynote address by US Democratic Sen. Chris Coons.
They assessed the gravity of the security threat posed by Iran to the US and to member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Dr. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said one must draw a distinction between Iran’s conventional military capability and its ability to engage in “asymmetric warfare.”
Its support of proxies and militant groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen constitutes a regional security threat, he added.
While Cordesman said much of Iran’s conventional military arsenal is outdated and constitutes remnants of the “Vietnam era,” he added that it has continued to develop its missile capability, which is a concern for its neighbors.
Suzanne Maloney, deputy director at the Brookings Institution’s foreign policy program, said Iran’s “imperial legacy” still plays a major role in how it tries to assert its influence in the region and beyond.
At the same time, there is a strong “conspiratorial” current in Iranian thinking, which makes policymakers view Iran’s adversaries in the region and beyond as part of a wide, almost global conspiracy to weaken the country, she added.
Moreover, religious doctrines continue to play a role in how Iran projects its foreign policy, she said.
Coons characterized calls for “regime change” in Iran as “ill advised.” But he expressed concern about its destabilizing policies in the region, especially its support for militant groups in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and its continued efforts to develop and test ballistic missile technology.
Coons said Iran’s recent elections were “neither free nor fair.” He described the nuclear deal as the “least bad option on the table,” saying it should not be abrogated and Iran’s compliance should be monitored.
Matthew McInnis, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said Tehran’s policy in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon is the “Iranization of the state security apparatus” by controlling some militias and supporting others.
But he said the complex nature of the conflict in Syria has made this effort more difficult there than in Lebanon or Iraq.
Unlike other outside players in the conflict, Tehran considers the Syrian regime’s survival as “existential” to its own, he said, adding: “Iran will do whatever it takes to support (Syrian President Bashar) Assad.”
Mohammed K. Al-Yahya, non-resident scholar at the Atlantic Council, said some Western observers are framing much of the Middle East’s instability through a “sectarian” lens that views all unrest as part of a regional conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
But he said the real problem “is between the US and Iran.” Al-Yahya recalled the decades-long hostility that Iran has exhibited toward the US, evidenced by its support for terrorist groups that have targeted American military and diplomatic installations and personnel in Lebanon, Iraq and other countries.
He said Saudi foreign policy has on occasion not achieved its desired results. Al-Yahya cited Iraq, saying the Kingdom should have engaged more consistently and broadly with various political factions after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
But he described as a “false equivalence” any attempt to compare Iran’s destabilizing policies with Saudi foreign policy, which has never tried to undermine the stability and legitimacy of its neighbors.

Source: Arab News

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