CIA Director William Burns gestures as he speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats in Washington, DC, April 15, 2021.

CIA Director Points Finger At Iran At Center Of Middle East Chaos

Wednesday, 01/31/2024

The CIA director has pointed the finger at Tehran in an article addressing the Middle East’s most turbulent times in recent history as it teeters ever closer to war.

“Key to Israel’s—and the region’s—security is dealing with Iran,” wrote William J. Burns in an article called Spycraft and Statecraft in Foreign Affairs.

The US spy chief said the Hamas atrocities of October 7, which has sparked Iran’s proxies across the region to ignite, has only empowered Iran, worsened by a weak US leadership.

“The Iranian regime has been emboldened by the [Gaza] crisis and seems ready to fight to its last regional proxy, all while expanding its nuclear program and enabling Russian aggression,” the spy chief wrote.

“In the months after October 7, the Houthis, the Yemeni rebel group allied with Iran, began attacking commercial ships in the Red Sea, and the risks of escalation on other fronts persist,” he said.

Israeli soldiers stand atop of a tank, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, near the border with North Gaza, Israel January 31, 2024.

However, with more than 160 attacks by the proxies on US facilities and personnel since the Gaza war broke out, and just a handful of military responses from Washington, there has been little deterrence, he admitted.

“The United States is not exclusively responsible for resolving any of the Middle East’s vexing problems. But none of them can be managed, let alone solved, without active US leadership.”

He said the ensuing “crisis precipitated by Hamas’s butchery … is a painful reminder of the complexity of the choices that the Middle East continues to pose for the United States”.

While competition with China will remain Washington’s highest priority, the Middle East has now reared its head, at a time when Biden has done his utmost to avoid conflict and attempted to pull away from the region.

The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in 2021 was a disaster leaving a more emboldened Taliban in charge, and the refusal to deal more strongly with Iran has seen hostages exchanged for billions of dollars yet the regime continues to bolster its nuclear program in spite of global sanctions.

Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in this screen grab taken from a handout video released on January 31, 2024.

“I have spent much of the last four decades working in and on the Middle East, and I have rarely seen it more tangled or explosive,” he warned. “Winding down the intense Israeli ground operation in the Gaza Strip, meeting the deep humanitarian needs of suffering Palestinian civilians, freeing hostages, preventing the spread of conflict to other fronts in the region, and shaping a workable approach for the “day after” in Gaza are all incredibly difficult problems.”

Beyond the Middle East, Iran continues to inflame the fans of conflict elsewhere, including its assistance to Russia in its unending war on Ukraine. “This year is likely to be a tough one on the battlefield in Ukraine, a test of staying power whose consequences will go well beyond the country’s heroic struggle to sustain its freedom and independence,” he warned, the war now entering its third year.

Iran has become a key ally, supplying the likes of drones used on civilian populations as the two sanctioned nations grow ever closer. “As Putin regenerates Russia’s defense production—with critical components from China, as well as weaponry and munitions from Iran and North Korea—he continues to bet that time is on his side, that he can grind down Ukraine and wear down its Western supporters,” added Burns.

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