Hobbling Iran

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Daily Telegraph – Leaders: Of course Iran is funnelling arms and agitators into the Shia provinces of Iraq. It goes without saying that the ayatollahs are seeking to stir up their co-religionists and to weaken the pro-Western section of Iraqi society. The Daily Telegraph

Leaders

Of course Iran is funnelling arms and agitators into the Shia provinces of Iraq. It goes without saying that the ayatollahs are seeking to stir up their co-religionists and to weaken the pro-Western section of Iraqi society.

All revolutionary regimes try to export their ideology, and Iran is no exception. Since 1979, the mullahs and their agents have roamed as far as the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Silk Road khanates, bringing their brand of fundamentalism to peoples who were close to forgetting their faith.

They have radicalised young men across the Arab world, especially among the Shia populations of Lebanon and the Gulf states, prompting King Abdullah of Jordan to fret about a “Shia crescent” along the arc of the old Fertile Crescent.

They have sponsored terrorist attacks as far afield as Britain and Argentina.

So no one should be surprised by their involvement in an adjacent territory that has long looked culturally and ecclesiastically to Teheran.

What is surprising is their blatancy. Britain, after all, is the fourth military power on Earth; yet Iran is defying our forces in southern Iraq with something close to impudence.

What has made the ayatollahs so confident? The short answer is the recent invasions.

Within the past three years, the West has removed two hostile regimes from Iran’s flanks: the Ba’athists and the Taliban. At the same time, an unhappy legacy of the Iraq war is that almost no one in Britain or America can mount an argument for further military action in the region. The mullahs know this.

None the less, there are several steps short of a full invasion that might be taken: tougher sanctions, asset seizures, the sponsoring of internal opposition movements, direct assaults on arms facilities and, as a last resort, the kind of armed siege that paralysed Saddam between 1991 and 2003.

Such actions would not be disproportionate given the magnitude of the threat. We know that Iran supplies terrorist proxies from Beirut to Buenos Aires. We know, too, that it wants the atomic bomb. Can we be certain that Iran would not tip its auxiliaries’ weapons with nuclear warheads? It is a risk we should not take.

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