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Iran's 'proxy armies' must stop: US

McMaster: The time is now, we think, to act against Iran [AFP]

Date of publication: 18 February, 2018

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The US has warned that action must be taken to prevent Iran from continuing its "Hizballah-like" proxy armies to spread influence in the region.

The US called on Saturday for more forceful action to stop Iran's development of "an increasingly powerful network of proxy armies" in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Washington's national security advisor H. R. McMaster accused Iran of escalating a campaign in the hopes of increasing its influence in the Middle East by forming "Hizballah-style" proxy armies in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, similar to what it has done in Lebanon.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, McMaster said: "The time is now, we think, to act against Iran," calling on US allies to suspend trade that was aiding the expansion of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. The Revolutionary Guards are the country's most powerful military and economic force in the republic.

The US considers Lebanon's Hizballah a terrorist organisation.

"What's particularly concerning is that this network of proxies is becoming more and more capable," he added.

Iran has denied accusations of interfering in other countries in the region.

The 2015 nuclear accord was also brought into question, with McMaster echoing US President Donald Trump's sentiments, saying it was time to address "serious flaws" in the Iran deal and "counter Iran's destabilising activities including its development and proliferation of missiles".

McMaster slammed investments by German firms and others, saying they were aiding Iran's missile programme and its activities in the Middle East.

"As a matter of international security and moral conscience we must stop doing business with (Iran Revolutionary Guard) affiliated interests, encourage the development of a true commercial sector in Iran and pressure the regime to respect the rights of its people," McMaster added.

Sergei Kislyak, a senior Russian diplomat, said that the American efforts on the Iranian nuclear deal is an "enormous blow" to non-proliferations efforts.

"We want this treaty ... to continue," he said. "We hear more and more signals from Washington to the extent that they are considering revisiting the participation in the treaty. If that is going to happen, that would be an enormous blow to the collective effort to make sure that non-proliferation efforts survive."

The US earlier in the month imposed fresh new sanctions on individuals and companies linked to Lebanon's Hizballah as part of a major new push by the Trump administration to contain Iranian influence. 

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