US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a news conference at UN headquarters in Manhattan, New York, 2018.
(photo credit: JEENAH MOON/REUTERS)
Iranian proxies in Iraq are reportedly developing the capacity to produce missiles, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said as she warned against the growing Iranian foothold in Iraq.
“In recent months, Iran’s aggression has escalated. Iranian proxies in Iraq operate openly, with funding, training, and weapons supplied by Tehran. The Iranian regime has reportedly begun over the last few months to transfer ballistic missiles to these proxies in Iraq. It is reportedly developing the capability for its proxy militias to produce their own missiles inside of Iraq,” Haley told the UN Security Council on Thursday.
She spoke at the UNSC’s monthly meeting on the Middle East, as Israel and the United States are increasingly concerned about the Iranian activity in Iraq, and the subsequent dangers to both Israel and the United States. Last month Reuters reported that Iran has given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq with the capacity to hit Israel. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has warned that the IDF, which has focused on preventing an Iranian foothold in Syria, could expand it activities against Iran to other areas of the Middle East.
All the council members who spoke at the UNSC meeting, however, focused the debate on Israeli actions against the Palestinians.
Haley, whose country holds the rotating UNSC presidency this month, chaired the meeting. On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump plans to chair a UNSC meeting of foreign minsters on global non-proliferation.
During her speech, Haley chastised the UNSC members for their focus on Israel over other Middle Eastern dangers such as Iran.
“If there is one country that is the source of conflict and instability in the Middle East – one country that merits a quarterly debate in the Security Council – that country is not Israel. It’s Iran,” she said.
“It is difficult to name a conflict in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints on it,
” she added.
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Iran has “trampled on the sovereignty of its neighbors” in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq where they want to create an “Iranian controlled corridor for weapons and fighters from Tehran to the Mediterranean,” Haley said.
Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC Quds Force, is leading the effort to influence the composition of a new Iraqi government, and has “practically taken up residence in Iraq” in defiance of UNSC resolution 2231, Haley said.
“Iran sees Iraq as merely a transit point for Iranian weapons and a training ground for Iranian proxies,” said Haley. Iran wants to see an economically weak and dependent Iraq, so that it can be a base by which to illicitly fund terrorist activities, Haley charged.
Iran has already attacked the US in Iraq, said Haley. “Two weeks ago, two Iranian proxy groups launched rocket attacks on the American Embassy in Baghdad and the US Consulate in Basra,” she said.
She restated a White House warning to Tehran.
“We hold the Iranian regime fully accountable for its proxies’ attacks on US facilities and personnel in Iraq. And we will not hesitate to vigorously defend American lives,” Haley said.
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