How Iran is taking the West for a ride

Yemen is another example of Iran is supporting a proxy in the form of the Houthi militants

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Published: Tue 15 Aug 2017, 9:26 PM

Last updated: Tue 15 Aug 2017, 11:27 PM

Iran's threat to pull out of the nuclear deal if the US slaps more sanctions on it for its missile programme could be all bluster. But knowing Iran, we can't be sure. Its nuke weapons programme may have been rolled back under the pact signed two years ago with the P5, or permanent members of the UN Security Council, and Germany, but the regime in Tehran remains the main source of instability in the Middle East. Since the deal was signed two years ago, Tehran has bolstered its conventional weapons ability and ballistic missile technology. Its navy is becoming an irritant in the Arabian Gulf, and has not even spared US warships. As we write this, it is being reported that an Iranian drone conducted an "unsafe and unprofessional approach" to a US aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz in the Arabian Gulf. Iran has provoked with its nuclear programme in the past and came away looking squeaky clean with a sweet deal. This newspaper had warned two years ago that the lifting of economic sanctions against the regime would make it easy for it to take the conventional weapons' route to bully and provoke its neighbours. Covert operations like the ones in Syria and Iraq have increased from 2015. Yemen is another example of Iran is supporting a proxy in the form of the Houthi militants.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who the West considered a moderate, has just begun his second term. His threats on withdrawing from the nuclear deal may be for a domestic audience, but he could be playing a bigger, dangerous game, and enlarging Iranian influence with Russia support. The Iranian president, during his speech, said military cooperation with Moscow was top priority. Ties between the two countries are already strong. Together they propped up the Assad regime in Syria when it was on its last legs. They now feel emboldened to venture out further. Tehran and Moscow are believed to be drawing up a strategy with the Taleban in Afghanistan to drive out the rest of the depleted Nato contingent there. For Moscow, it is payback time for what happened in the late 70s when its troops beat a hasty retreat from the country. As for Rouhani, he has proved to be a wolf in sheep's clothing, nukes or no nukes.

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