Iran is responsible for the deaths of at least 608 US service members in Iraq in the period from 2003 to 2011, Advisor to the Secretary of State Brian Hook said during a press breifing on April 2. He added that this number is 17% of all deaths of U.S. personnel in Iraq in this period.
Additionally to this, Hook came with a common list of accusations blaiming and shaming Iran for its “meddling” in affairs of Middle Eastern states.
“The effects of Iran’s meddling had been felt most sharply by the region’s innocent civilians. Men, women, and children are casualties of Iran’s dangerous expansionism almost every day. In Yemen, Iran has helped fuel a humanitarian catastrophe by backing the Houthis. Its support has prolonged the conflict well beyond what makes any sense at all.
In Syria, Iran has (inaudible) and abetted Assad’s brutal war machine as that machine has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions of civilians. Under the cover of the Syrian war, the IRGC is now trying to plant military roots in Syria and establish a new strategic base to threaten Syria’s neighbors such as Israel.
In Lebanon, the Iranian regime’s obsession with using Hizballah to provoke conflict with Lebanon’s neighbors threatens the safety of the Lebanese people. IRGC backing enables Hizballah to use murder, terrorism, and corruption to intimidate other Lebanese parties and communities.
In Iraq, I can announce today, based on declassified U.S. military reports, that Iran is responsible for the deaths of at least 608 American service members. This accounts for 17 percent of all deaths of U.S. personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011. This death toll is in addition to the many thousands of Iraqis killed by the IRGC’s proxies,” he stressed during the briefing.
The diplomat said that the US actions are “aimed at reversing Iran’s strategic gains.”
“From roughly 2007 through 2016, Iran was able for a variety of reasons to deepen its support of proxies and entrench itself in regional conflicts without facing negative consequences. Iran does this by letting its proxies do the dying for them in regional wars. The proxies also give the regime plausible deniability, a 40-year fiction this administration refuses to honor. Since taking office, but especially in the last 11 months, this administration has countered Iran’s grand strategy. We are imposing costs on the regime for behaving as an outlaw expansionist regime. The regime is weaker today than when we took office two years ago. Its proxies are also weaker. Unless the regime demonstrates a change in policy and behavior, the financial challenges facing Tehran will mount.
Second, as we expose the regime’s corruption, economic mismanagement, human rights abuses, arbitrary detention of dual nationals, environmental destruction, and more, we are making the case to countries in the region that Iran is neither a model to emulate nor a partner to follow. Wherever it goes, conflict, misery, and suffering follow,” Hook claimed.
“Third, rolling back Iran’s power projection will make it easier to address other regional challenges. Many intellectuals and diplomats over the years have argued that without progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there can be no progress on other conflicts. This has been referred to by some as linkage – the idea that resolving peace between Israel and the Palestinians was necessary to resolve other flash points.”
He further claimed that adressing “the threats posed by Iran” will help to settle a variety of Middle East conflicts.
“When we look at the challenges in the region, from the peace process to conflicts in Syria and Yemen, to violence in Bahrain and Iraq, Iran’s operations lie at or very near the heart of the problem. It supports Palestinian terror groups like Hamas that undermine the aspirations of the Palestinian people. It exports missiles and terrorist know-how to the Houthis in Yemen, who in turn threaten neighboring countries. It threatens the war – it perpetuates the war in Syria by propping up the Assad regime. Nowhere in the region are peace and prosperity compatible with Iranian influence and support.
The Islamic Republic is linked to these crises in a way that compounds suffering and prevents peace and stability from getting a better footing. Iran can no longer be allowed to play the role of chief spoiler. Our pressure is making it harder than ever before for them to do that,” Hook added.
Regarding the effect of the US sanctions against Iran’s oil sector, Hook said that 3 of 8 countries granted waivers by Washington to import oil from Iran have now cut the imports to zero.
While the US has set a goal of completely halting Iran’s oil exports, it granted temporary import waivers to China, India, Greece, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey and South Korea to ensure low oil prices and no disruption to the global oil market.
“In November, we granted eight oil waivers to avoid a spike in the price of oil. I can confirm today three of those importers are now at zero,” he said.
According to the provided data, the US oil sanctions removed about 1.5 million barrels of Iranian oil exports off the market since May 2018. Therefore, it denied the Iranian access to well over $10 billion in oil revenue.
This press briefing is a sign that the Trump adminsitration is not going to move towards a possible de-escalation of the tensions with Iran in the near future. Instead, it’s seeking to increase pressure on Teheran and to undermine its influece and economy.
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