March 17, 2010
Petraeus: Peace advances could undercut Iran threat
Iran’s threatening posture in the Middle East could be undercut by a credible Israeli-Arab peace process, the U.S. military’s central commander said.
“The Iranian regime is the primary state-level threat to stability in the region,” Gen. David Petraeus said Tuesday in remarks prepared for testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The regime entrusts the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)-Qods Force to execute covert aspects of its foreign policy using political influence, covert businesses, lethal and non-lethal aid, and training to militants supportive of the regime’s agenda.”
This is especially true in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Gaza—the latter three neighboring Israel.
Moreover, the general said, “Iran’s nuclear program is a serious, destabilizing factor in the region and is widely believed to be a part of the regime’s broader effort to expand its influence.”
Iran’s influence could be limited by “a credible U.S. effort on Arab-Israeli issues that provides regional governments and populations a way to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the disputes,” Petraeus said. This “would undercut Iran’s policy of militant ‘resistance,’ which the Iranian regime and insurgent groups have been free to exploit. Additionally, progress on the Israel-Syria peace track could disrupt Iran’s lines of support to Hamas and Hezbollah.”
Elsewhere in his testimony, describing challenges to regional security and stability, Petraeus said, “The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel.
“Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples,” he said, “and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world.”
The Central Command includes U.S. deployment in the Middle East.