Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, US CENTCOM commander has expressed concern in an Associated Press interview over the growing capabilities of Iran’s missiles and drones.
The US general in charge of protecting the Persian Gulf and the wider Middle East said that the range, lethality, capability as well as the quantity of Iranian missiles are increasing and “that concerns me, coupled with their land attack, cruise missiles over the last couple of years,” and with their growing drone program he said.
“You know, they starve their people so they can build these missiles,” the CENTCOM commander said.
Iran’s Islamic government touts its missile and other military programs as sign of its success in self-reliance, but the civilian economy has not grown in the past decade. High inflation, a battered currency and lack of investments have increased poverty.
An underground Iranian missile base pictured in March 2021
Regarding Iran’s role in Iraq and the presence of around 2,500 US troops, McKenzie said that Tehran and Iraqi militias it backs are upset that they lost in the parliamentary elections in October, and he is anticipating more attacks during December.
"They're really frustrated over their inability to affect government formation in the way they want to do it,” he said and their attacks, including a drone strike at the prime minister’s residence is “a signpost of the desperation that they're under right now.”
Many Iraqis detest Iran’s indirect presence in their country and the political influence Tehran has projected, ensuring that loyal politicians maintain control in Iraq. But at the same time, inefficiencies and the mismanagement of successive governments are also blamed on Iran’s meddling. Large anti-government and anti-Iran protests erupted in October 2019 and continued for months, openly demanding Iran to remove itself from Iraqi politics.
The US general added that Iran’s ultimate aim is to evict American forces from Iraq, but those forces will stay, he reiterated, with a new, non-combat role.
Top Iranian officials have been often claiming that US forces are about to leave Iraq and that would be a second victory after their “escape” from Afghanistan.