Washington must step up actions to counter Iran-backed militias
United States–Iran-affiliated militia groups continue to hamper the peace and security in several countries, including the United States. From seizing territory and cajoling government procedures to creating obstructions in Washington’s efforts to defeat the al-Qaeda and ISIS forces, Iranian-backed groups are expanding their power across the region and threatening the regional security for the US and its allies.
Iran’s proxies are generally small, independent groups that have developed to be major threats to the stability in the region. These groups are perpetrating violent acts and undermining legitimate sovereign institutions to gain influence beyond the Iranian borders. According to reports, Iran-backed groups are engaging in terrorist activities in Washington, posing grave concern to national security.
Attacks on Americans
Working largely behind its proxies, Iran has targeted American citizens and other allies in various parts of the world through terrorist acts, including the 1983 Marine barracks bombing. In 2011, American forces thwarted an alleged plot directed by the Iran-backed groups to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US. Last year, the FBI foiled a plot by the Iranian intelligence network to kidnap New York-based journalist Maseh Alinejad.
In its 2022 Annual Threat Assessment, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) reported that Tehran is committed to developing networks within the United States. Officials have also pointed out towards lack of actions taken by the US government in countering the terror acts of Iran-backed groups. Reports are also rife that these groups are involved in the internal politics of the US.
Targeting the Middle East
Not just the United States, Iranian-backed militias, particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are threatening the stability in other Arab nations, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. From Afghanistan to Yemen, Iranian arms are found in the hands of some of the most dangerous actors of terrorism. IRGC and Quds Force have extended support to numerous terrorist activities in America and the Middle East through defence material and financial means among others. Hezbollah, a major Iran-backed proxy, has been wreaking havoc with deadly attacks in Lebanon and Israel.
Iran has emerged as the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Noting the dangers posed by Iran’s expansionism and support for terrorism, it is important for US Congress to develop relevant strategies to counter Tehran’s proxies. Experts have underlined the need for Washington to put an end to the growth of Iranian-backed groups and their destabilizing behaviour in order to tackle ISIS, al-Qaeda and other terror organisations in allied countries.