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October 23, 2017 5:33 pm

US ‘Can’t Allow’ Iranian IRGC Supply Lines Through Middle East, Sen. Tom Cotton Declares

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Sen. Tom Cotton speaks at the Hudson Institute counterterrorism conference in Washington, DC. Photo: Screenshot.

A leading member of the Senate Armed Services Committee has warned that the danger posed by Iran towards Israel is only increasing as the Tehran regime extends its political influence and military footprint across the Middle East.

“It’s a very dangerous advance that Iran is making through northern Iraq and southern Syria,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) told a conference on counterterrorism organized by the Washington, DC-based Hudson Institute on Monday.

Cotton highlighted that Iran’s “aggression against Israel has become much more widespread.”

“For instance, Iran is now providing not just rockets, it’s helping to build precision-guided munitions factories in Syria, on the border with Lebanon, where Hezbollah can manufacture its own precision-guided munitions to use against Israel,” Cotton said.

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“We can’t allow that to happen,” the senator continued. “We can’t allow the IRGC (Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) to have, unmolested, resupply lines going from Iran into the Levant.”

Asked about the viability of a “Shia crescent” extending from Iran to the Mediterranean coast, Cotton observed that “Unfortunately, Iran has the power of nation state behind a revolutionary cause. You see it in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen and on the seas.”

Cotton concluded: “It’s not in the interest of the United States to have a revolutionary cause backed with the powers of a nation state expanding its influence throughout the region.”

Earlier in the day, former President Barack Obama’s defense secretary, Leon Panetta, told the same conference that it was imperative to “confront the influence of Iran.”

“Iran provides support for terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and other elements of disruption in the Middle East,” Panetta observed. “There is a triangle between Damascus and Tehran and Baghdad.”

Panetta recommended the formation of a regional coalition to confront the threats posed by Iran and terrorism more broadly, revealing that while in office, he had “made this recommendation a lot, and it didn’t get very far.”

“We have to develop a Middle East coalition of countries that can work in cohesion,” Panetta said. “Israel should be part of that coalition, because they are concerned with terrorism and with Iran.” He said that such a coalition should be built around moderate Arab countries, and should have a joint military command and the ability to combine resources in order to “go after terrorists.”

Meanwhile, Iran warned European nations on Monday not to “meddle in issues related to Iran’s defense activities” along with the US.

“Europe has no right to meddle in our defense affairs,” the head of the Islamic Republic’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, said in Tehran. “The Europeans should realize that if they want to follow the US and interfere in our defense affairs, we will stand against them as we did against the US.” Larijani underlined that “Iran’s missile program is for defense and non-negotiable.”

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