The new United States military commander in the Middle East has told an Abu Dhabi newspaper that Iran is the most destabilizing force in the Middle East.
In an interview with The National published Thursday, General Erik Kurilla of Centcom (Central Command) said the US was also concerned about surging food and fuel prices, and the growing influence of China.
Kurilla travelled to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia less than 45 days after taking the command to hear from America’s strategic partners, he said. The US relationships with the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been strained, while Egypt faces food shortages with 85 percent of its wheat imported from Russia or Ukraine.
Kurilla said that Iran’s uranium enrichment, ballistic missile development, and regional alliances, particularly with Ansar Allah, or the Houthis, in Yemen, had repeatedly been central to his conversations.
“The United States' position is that we will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon, however, our concerns about Iran go far beyond their nuclear capability and ambitions,” he said.
Referring to Ansar Allah attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE since 2021 – following the Saudi military intervention in Yemen in 2015 – Kurilla said he sought an “integrated air and missile defense program in support of the kingdom [Saudi Arabia] and the Emirates.” His predecessor General Kenneth F McKenzie said during his farewell visit that Iran was the region’s “principal bad actor.”