The State Department annual terrorism assessment was released Friday and noted that 2014 saw a significant increase in death and destruction worldwide.
The assessment offered a worrying sign of even worse terror-related violence to come after a year in which extremists in the Middle East, Africa and Asia committed 35 percent more terrorist acts, killed nearly twice as many people and almost tripled the number of kidnappings worldwide. Statistics released also pointed to a tenfold surge in the most lethal kinds of attacks.
Yet even as the Islamic State and the Taliban were blamed for most of the death and destruction in 2014, the department’s annual terrorism report underscored the ongoing threat posed by Iran and its proxies across the Islamic world and beyond.
Tehran increased its assistance to Shiite militias fighting in Iraq and continued its long-standing military, intelligence and financial aid to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s embattled government and Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. While the 388-page study said Iran has lived up to interim nuclear deals with world powers thus far, it gave no prediction about how an Iran flush with cash from a final agreement would behave.
The June 30 deadline for an agreement between Iran and the P5+1 powers on the removal of sanctions and recognition of Iran’s right to keep their civilian nuclear program is quickly approaching. Concerns remain that President Obama is so desperate for a deal–to bolster his “legacy”–that the most contentious details may be left out of the final agreement.
“There will be a deal, Americans need it more than we do. This deal will help both countries,” said an Iranian official, who put the chances of a final deal at 70 percent.
Obama must win approval for the deal from the Republican-controlled Congress, where many fear the deal will boost Iran’s as a regional power and increase its threat to U.S. allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. Officials close to the talks say Obama expects Congress to oppose the deal and is prepared to use his veto to ensure it is not derailed.
On Iran’s side, the hard-line supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has the final word on a deal. Iranian officials say he supports an agreement.
Many critics of the nuclear deal have long stated that any deal should include Iran’s discontinuation of support for worldwide terrorism and official recognition of the right for the State of Israel to exist. The Obama Administration has held that to try and tie these conditions would lead to an impasse.
It is a very real concern what Iran may choose to sponsor once their coffers are once again overflowing. If Tehran has been able to project power via their proxies throughout the region despite a seriously crippled economy it stands to reason that this support will increase dramatically once sanctions are removed.[AP][Business Insider][Photo: Reuters]