Mattis prefers to deal diplomatically with Iran

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has indicated that Trump administration is keen to deal with Iran through a “diplomatically-led effort,” a day after a top U.S. diplomat said Tehran was supplying weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. But a clearer picture of US President Donald Trump’s doctrine – structured US national security strategy, is expected to be released on Monday.

Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations has vowed to build a strong case against Iran by gathering  support from other countries including the UN for violating an international agreement by supplying weapons to Middle East countries but a spokesman of Shiite rebels known as Houthis has heavily criticized U.S. charges that Tehran is funneling missiles to the Yemen.

Haley has accused Iran of providing weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen and  cited the United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 passed in 2015 that bars Iran from supplying, selling or transferring certain weapons outside the country unless approved by the Security Council. It also prohibits Iran from transferring weapons capable of delivering nuclear warheads.

Setting off a proxy war Iran and Saudi Arabia, U.S. diplomat displayed pieces of what defense officials said were Iranian-made Qiam missiles at a military base in Washington , including one that was fired by Houthi militants at an airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Saudi officials have called that attack an “act of war” by Iran.

The two missiles were fired at Mecca and Riyadh Airport in late July and early November bore the trademark of the Iranian ‘Shahid Bagheri Industries’ which is already on the sanctions list of the United Nations.

Her accusations were the latest step by the Trump administration’s effort to punish Iran for its ballistic missile program and destabilizing actions throughout the Middle East.

As Trump has time till mid-January to decide whether to extend sanctions relief for Iran after he  disavowed the nuclear deal in October, the Trump administration is weighing a strategy of imposing restrictions that could derail efforts by Boeing Co. and Airbus SE from selling hundreds of passenger planes to Iranian airlines.

During an impromptu news conference, Mattis praised U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s Dec. 14 presentation at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling that highlighted Iran’s  arms program. Haley stood in front of an Iranian missile that Iran’s proxy – the Houthis – fired at Riyadh International Airport, a civilian target in Saudi Arabia. The missile didn’t hit the airport, but if it had, it potentially could have killed hundreds of innocent civilians.

Mattis said. “What we are doing in that region,” he added, “is standing by allies and partners, and we’re on one hand exposing, on the other hand helping them build their own capability to reject Iranian influence.”

Specifically mentioning that US wants Assad to step down, Mattis said, “We find Iran actively engaged in keeping Syrian President Bashar Assad in power, despite the murder of his own people on the industrial scale, including the use of chemical weapons,” Mattis said. “We see what Iran has done with Lebanese Hezbollah in Lebanon and the threat to peace and the support they’ve given to Assad and the threat to Israel, for example.”

Mattis said. “The reason Ambassador Haley was there, and not one of our generals, is this is a diplomatically led effort to expose to the world what Iran is up to,” he said.

But there have been several reports that the weapons the U.S. dumps in Syria and Iraq ended up falling into the hands of extremists and the Saudi has a history of funding  many jihadists across the Middle East.The recent decision of recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by Trump has reaffirmed that coalition  against Iran includes Saudi Arabia and Israel. Trump has opened various fronts with Iran, North Korea, Muslim World after Jerusalem decision and may include Russia whom Mc Master has accused of “being involved in so-called new generation warfare.”

The foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Zarif, has suggested an executive mechanism for the success of this doctrine.
According to his opinion,”a forum should be created for the countries of the Persian Gulf and beyond so that they are able to freely discuss their problems and find out solutions according to the satisfaction of the concerned parties. As the European countries are deeply affected by insecurity in the Middle East, they also can participate in such talks and add to the value of the discussion instead of blindly following America and presenting impractical and illogical solutions.”

Zarif pointed out that interaction between the elites and politicians of Iran and the Arab countries of the region should be undertaken to help remove  misunderstandings.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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