Votel: Iran is Greatest Threat to Middle East

Army Gen. Joseph Votel, chief of US Central Command, told Congress Wednesday “Iran poses the greatest long-term threat to security in this part of the world.” In delivering that assessment to the House Armed Services Committee, Votel pointed to “a range of malign activities perpetrated by Iran and its proxies” which demonstrates that “Iran’s objective is to be the regional hegemon.” While the US has avoided direct conflict with Iran, Votel said Tehran operates in “a grey zone,” which he said defines “an area between open conflict between states.” In this borderline region of near-warfare, Votel said Iran’s main strategies include “raising surrogate forces,” “lethal aid facilitation,” “cyber activities,” and “influence operations.” He also outlined a three-step response. The US must “disrupt through military means, or other means, their activities” as well as “expose and hold them accountable.” At a more general level, though, Votel insisted that US partners within the region must “address [Iran’s] revolutionary ideology.” While the US can “play a role in that,” Votel said, “there are just some things that as a Western country, as the United States, will not rate as fully as it will from people in the region.”