Diplomacy

Amb. Haley: Iran “Chief Culprit” Behind Mideast Conflicts

The United States ambassador to the United Nations identified Iran, along with its proxy group Hezbollah, as the “chief culprit” behind instability in the Middle East during a Security Council meeting on Thursday.

“If we are speaking honestly about conflict in the Middle East, we need to start with the chief culprit: Iran and its partner militia, Hezbollah,” Nikki Haley said. “Iran and Hezbollah conspire together to destabilize the Middle East.”

Haley said she wanted to transform the Security Council’s regular “Israel-bashing sessions,” which “don’t do anyone in the region any favors,” to constructive meetings focused on addressing Iranian belligerence.

Haley, who also in April is serving as president of the Security Council, emphasized that the U.S. would not ignore the “growing menace” presented by Iran and its allies, which have been committing terrorist acts across the Middle East for decades. Today, they “prop up Bashar al-Assad’s brutality” and “train deadly militias in Iraq and arm Houthi militants in Yemen,” she said.

Iran and Hezbollah “are working together to expand extremist ideologies in the Middle East,” Haley added. “That is a threat that should be dominating our discussion at this Security Council.”

She also pointed out that Iran operates in violation or defiance of a number of Security Council resolutions:

Iran’s ballistic missile tests defy Security Council resolutions and further undermine the stability in the region. We call on all states to fully implement Resolution 2231, which bans the transfer of weapons to and from Iran, as well as the arms embargoes against the Houthis in Resolution 2216 and for Lebanon in Resolution 1701.

Haley called on “our partners to document and address any actions that violate these resolutions,” and demanded that the council “take a stand against Iran and Hezbollah’s illegal and dangerous behavior.”

“How one chooses to spend one’s time is an indication of one’s priorities. The same is true for the United Nations Security Council. The Israel-Palestinian issue is an important one, deserving of attention. But that is one issue that surely has no lack of attention around here,” Haley concluded. “The incredibly destructive nature of Iranian and Hezbollah activities throughout the Middle East demands much more of our attention. It should become this Council’s priority in the region.”

After attending her first Security Council meeting devoted to the Middle East in February, Haley said that the U.S. “will not turn a blind eye” to the council’s disproportionate focus on Israel. “Incredibly, the UN Department of Political Affairs has an entire division devoted to Palestinian affairs,” she added. “There is no division devoted to illegal missile launches from North Korea. There is no division devoted to the world’s number one state-sponsor of terror, Iran.”

At last month’s AIPAC Policy Conference, the ambassador declared that “the days of Israel-bashing” at the UN are over.

Haley’s efforts at the UN come as other top U.S. administration officials are emphasizing the threat that Iran presents to peace and stability in the Middle East. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson emphasized that Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terror in a letter to Congress on Tuesday, and noted on Wednesday that the 2015 nuclear deal only serves to delay Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon.

After meeting with top Saudi Arabian officials on Wednesday, Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters, “Everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region, you find Iran.”

[Photo: Martin Rankoff /  YouTube ]