Eleven Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa, echoing an official U.S. position, have accused Shiite powerhouse Iran of being a state sponsor of “terrorism,” noting that the Islamic Republic is “funding and arming militias that destabilize our region.”
Consistent with the U.S. government’s determination, the 11 countries, in a letter to the United Nations General Assembly circulated Monday, noted that Iran is “constantly interfering in the internal affairs of Arab nations, sparking tension and instability in the region,” reports the Associated Press (AP).
“The 11 countries cited Iran’s support for Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen and the Shiite Hezbollah group in Lebanon which has sent fighters to support the Syrian government,” points out AP, adding that the nations also accused the Islamic Republic of backing “terrorist groups and cells” in Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and elsewhere.
Reiterating a statement by Bahrain’s foreign minister issued in September, the Arab nations said the only way forward is for Iran “to comprehensively change its foreign policies and end hostilities.”
The letter was penned by representatives of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and signed by their counterparts in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Yemen.
Citing the letter to the UN, AP reports that the purpose of the correspondence was “to warn them about Iran’s nefarious behavior, and to pressure Iran to stop funding and arming militias that destabilize our region.”
Sunni Saudi Arabia is Iran’s regional rival.
Although the 11 countries reaffirmed their support for the nuclear pact reached between Iran and U.S.-led world powers in July 2015, they added that “unfortunately” since the deal was signed, “we have seen nothing but increased Iranian aggression in the region and the continuation of support for terrorist groups.”
“We remain firm in our resolve,” noted the Arab nations, “that any interference by the Islamic Republic of Iran in the domestic affairs of Arab states is unacceptable and must be confronted.”
As part of the nuclear deal, President Barack Obama paid state sponsor of terrorism Iran at least $1.7 billion in cash.
Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s UN ambassador has accused the Islamic Republic of “fueling the violence in Yemen, and in other parts of the Middle East.”
“The 11 countries condemned Iran for sponsoring ‘terrorism’ in the region, particularly in Yemen where they said Tehran is supporting the Houthis financially and militarily by training their fighters and illegally sending them weapons and ammunition,” adds AP.
Iran is officially listed by the United States as a state sponsor of terror along with Syria and Sudan.
In its latest annual assessment of terrorism activities across the globe, the U.S. State Department reports:
In 2015, Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism worldwide remained undiminished through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), its Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and Tehran’s ally [Hezbollah], which remained a significant threat to the stability of Lebanon and the broader region.
“The letter [from the 11 countries to the UN] was a response to a statement by Iranian diplomat Abbas Yazdani at the end of the General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting on Sept. 26,” explains AP. “He dismissed as ‘absurd and hypocritical’ accusations by the UAE’s foreign minister that Tehran was supporting the Houthis when UAE jet fighters were ‘bombing innocent civilians in Yemen’ as part of the Saudi-led coalition.”
“Yazdani also accused the UAE and other ‘accomplices’ of ‘funding and arming terrorists in Iraq and Syria and in many other places,’ of repeating ‘baseless claims’ to three islands near the Strait of Hormuz that are controlled by Iran but claimed by the Emirates, and of trying to impede the nuclear deal,” it adds.