WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, criticized Iran’s role in Iraq in an emergency Security Council meeting on Friday which the US called for in response to the popular protests in Iran and the regime’s heavy-handed suppression of them.
Haley affirmed that “freedom and human dignity cannot be separated from peace and security,” and she hailed the protests of the “brave people,” who have become so angry at “their oppressive government that they’re willing to risk their lives in protest.”
Haley also said that the dictatorial nature of the Iranian regime caused it to “spread conflict and stability far and wide,” before citing the most egregious cases of Iranian aggression.
The UN has reported that Tehran “spends at least 6 billion every year, propping up the murderous Assad regime in Syria,” Haley stated. “The people of Iran know this, and so they are telling the government, “Let go of Syria. Think of us.”
“The Iranian regime spends millions on militias in Iraq each year,” she continued.
“It gives millions more each year to the Houthis in Yemen, including sending them ballistic missiles to fire at other countries.”
Haley’s criticism of Iran’s spending on militias in Iraq is significant because it marks a rare US acknowledgment, and critique, of Tehran’s activities in the neighboring Arab state.
In contrast, some two weeks ago, on the occasion of the publication of the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy, a senior administration official seemed oblivious to the problem.
He claimed that the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq had made an Iranian land bridge to the Mediterranean “a lot more complicated to establish.”
But the opposite is true. Paul Davis, a former Pentagon analyst of Kurdish affairs, remarked, “That has got to be one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.”
Michael Pregent, an Iraq expert at the Hudson Institute, similarly dismissed that statement as “laughable.”
The statement ignored the fact that the Iranian-backed militias have played an important role in defeating IS, and they now occupy the very territory that Iran would use for its path to the Mediterranean.
The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz recently reported that some 100,000 Iranian-backed militia fighters operate in Iraq. “Though part of the funding for these militias” comes from Iraqi sources, “the lion’s share of their pay and weaponry is financed by Tehran,” it said.
The UK generally supported the US position in the Security Council session, and it also raised the issue of Tehran’s activities in Iraq.
“We’re deeply concerned about Iranian assistance to groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq,” the British representative stated.
On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron, in a New Year’s address to the French diplomatic corps, called for the “gradual dismantling” of the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.
France has been the most outspoken Western power on this issue, calling for the dismantling of the irregular forces already a month ago, when the Kurdish Prime, Nechirvan Barzani, led an official delegation to meet with Macron in Paris.
Editing by Nadia Riva