Iran remains the biggest threat to stability in the Middle East, the top US military official for the region said Tuesday.
And the US needs to increase its capabilities in the air since, for the “first time since the Korean War, we are operating without complete air superiority,” US Central Command chief General Frank McKenzie.
McKenzie also noted the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, which has fired over 150 ballistic missiles and bomb-laden drones at civilian targets in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee in Washington, McKenzie revealed that US MQ-9s (unmanned aerial vehicle) deterred several Iranian attacks at sea in 2019. “Iran could hear them operating,” he said, adding that this instilled fear in Iran.
But he warned that small and medium-sized drones were being used to attack US interests and forces in the region. This required new and improved military developments and capabilities.
“The future is going to demand bigger and better … more sophisticated” weapons and aircraft, McKenzie said.
Asked what the most significant threat was to the US in the region, McKenzie said it was Tehran and its Shia militias that continue to attack US interests in Iraq.
He said, “Iran has failed” in its effort to push the US out of Iraq. He added that the US would not completely withdraw from Iraq in the near future.
Such a withdrawal has also not been raised during Strategic Dialogue talks between Washington and Baghdad.
The US general also voiced his belief that the future of Iraq and Syria was “not going to be bloodless” because ISIS “is going to remain; it’s not going to go away.”