Those who thought that President Trump was not serious when he threatened to pullout of the Iran nuclear deal have been surprised by the consistent moves by the present US Administration to confront Tehran over its errant behavior.
This is the opinion of Republican Ted Budd, who is a member of the US House of Representatives from North Carolina. Budd also serves on the Financial Services Committee and its Terrorism and Illicit Finance Subcommittee.
Ted Budd represents North Carolina's 13th Congressional District and is serving his first term in the 115th United States Congress.
In an Opinion piece on Fox News website, Budd has written on the that the Trump administration “deserves credit” for pilling out of the disastrous deal, and according to him, “It is clear that Iran is promoting the expansion of military and terrorist activities across the Middle East.”
In this context, Budd goes on “to examine the actions of the Iranian government on several fronts”.
On top of his list is “Iran’s continued support of the Hezbollah terrorist organization” with both financial and political assistance, as well as weapons and tactical training. He cites sources to quantify the Iranian financial support at around “$100 million each year, sometimes reaching amounts closer to a quarter of a billion dollars”.
Next is Iranian-supplied arms, “including 11,500 missiles that have already been placed in Lebanon. Along with the supplied weapons, over 3,000 Hezbollah militants have undergone Iranian training. They have learned about guerilla warfare tactics, operation of unmanned drones and marine warfare.”
Hezbollah through the backing of Iran and through their own illicit financing and criminal networks, has become a potent force and a direct source of instability in the Middle East - in Syria by propping up Assad, provided material support for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and in training and command operations for Iraqi militia groups. In Yemen, it has provided ballistic missiles and leadership to the Houthi militia. In addition, Hezbollah is boosting its presence in North Africa.
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Apart from posing a direct threat to US security interests, Iran’s role is guaranteed to “prolonging of conflicts across the Middle East, and pose threats to our key allies in the region”, writes Budd.
He then comes round to Qatar and says: “We should pay attention to Doha’s continued support of state-sponsored terrorism efforts.”
According to Budd, Qatar’s ongoing support and funding for terrorist groups has been well-documented.
“It’s of increasing concern that Iranian banks are moving their foreign exchange operations to the Qatar National Bank. We know Iran’s access to foreign currencies is an essential part of the government’s funding and support for terrorism.”
American concerns regarding the activities of Iran and Qatar, he says, have been sparked off following statements from Tehran voicing its support for the Doha regime.
As the US Treasury continues to bring back sanctions against Iran, Budd urges the department to pay attention to these issues and keep a close watch over the actions of both the Qatari and Iranian governments, as well as Hezbollah’s “illicit activities around the world”.
The US Congressman holds Iran, Qatar and Hezbollah responsible for the increasing terrorist activities across the Middle East, and he says that the US “must impose harsh sanctions that directly limit the Iranian regime's access to finance.”
“The sanctions against Iran will affect all major industries, thereby preventing the leadership from funding destabilizing activities in the Middle East and wider world.”