Iran tells Middle East militias: prepare for proxy war. Top military leader delivers message at Baghdad meeting as tensions rise.
The Guardian. May 16, 2019
The US has become increasingly vocal about the activities of Iranian proxies in the Middle East. Donald Trump this month named Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a western-designated terrorist group financed by Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, as partly responsible for a barrage of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel.
On Sunday, four ships – two of them Saudi oil tankers – were reportedly sabotaged off the UAE coast. The following day, drones launched by Iranian-allied rebels in Yemen attacked two Saudi pipelines. Saudi state media on Thursday called for “surgical strikes” against Iranian targets in response and its senior officials have told Washington that they expect it to act in its interests.
Adding to concerns is a belief that a convoy of Iranian-supplied missiles was last week successfully transported across Iraq’s Anbar province into Syria, where it was transferred safely to Damascus, regional diplomats told the Guardian. The transfer managed to evade US and Israeli intelligence, despite the latter’s interdiction of dozens of alleged missile deliveries in the past three years that have been flown into various Syrian airbases via an airbridge.
Fears of an Iranian-run land corridor emerging from the fight against the Islamic State, in which Shia militia groups played a prominent role, have been central to concerns that postwar Iraq and Syria could be subverted by regional manoeuvrings