On Thursday, an article by Russia Today noted that the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives had passed a resolution accusing Iran, Russia, and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad of collaborating on the commission of war crimes, namely the deliberate killing of civilians.
The bill said in part, “the vast majority of the civilians who have died in the Syrian conflict have been killed by the Government of Syria and its allies, specifically the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Iran’s terrorist proxies including Hezbollah.”
Congressional opponents of the bill suggested that such a confrontational resolution would be counterproductive at a time when the US and Russia had reportedly made a breakthrough in pursuing a negotiated solution to the Syrian Civil War. But some longstanding critics of the Obama administration worry that the US may be pushed in the direction of accepting a situation that serves the interests of Russian and Iran to a much greater extent than those of the US.
Traditional US allies in the Middle East have similarly expressed concern that recent US policy has given too long a leash to the Islamic Republic. This has led to Saudi Arabia and its supporters in the region taking action on their own to confront the growth of Iranian influence in areas including Syria and Yemen.
In Yemen, this has meant deployment of troops by the Arab coalition, against Houthi rebels supported by Tehran. And there is some worry that the Saudis are gearing up for direct involvement in Syria, as well, against the wishes of the US.
But the worsening proxy war between Iran and the Gulf Arab states has also brought the latter more into line with Western views in some respects. Quadrangle reports that this has led to the Gulf Cooperation Council adding Hezbollah and all of its affiliates to their list of terrorist organizations.
The Iran-controlled Lebanese paramilitary group has been on Western terror lists virtually since its inception. But the political stakes of making such a declaration were problematic for the Saudis and their allies, since doing so could alienate a portion of the Lebanese population. Indeed, Quadrangle indicates that Iran is poised to try to take advantage of the situation, but Saudi Arabia seems willing to take a desperate gambit to compel the Lebanese government to pull away from Hezbollah and Tehran, and affiliate itself with Riyadh instead.
Such moves are certainly reactions to ever-escalating concerns about unchecked Iranian influence in the region – something the ministers of several GCC countries roundly condemned this week, according to Gulf News.
“The Iranian interference is considered to be a threat to a number of countries in the region,” Bahrain’s Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa said in the 33rd session of Arab Interior Ministers on Wednesday. “Their interference includes support for terrorism, promoting chaos, and political interference. The goal is to achieve Persian domination over Arabism with the use of the Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah. Even Iran’s media groups play a role.”