McKenzie urged Iran not to engage in “nefarious activities.”
By David Isaac, World Israel News
U.S. Central Command commander Gen. Frank McKenzie warned Iran against provocations during a visit to Oman on Sunday.
“I would think this would be a good time for everybody to behave soberly and cautiously, and see what happens,” McKenzie said in an interview with AFP.
He urged Iran not to engage in “nefarious activities.”
“I think they would want to be recognized as a responsible member of the family of nations and a stable member in the region,” McKenzie said.
It remains to be seen whether McKenzie’s words fall on deaf ears. Early signs aren’t encouraging. A rocket attack on Feb. 14 in northern Iraq targeting U.S. forces killed a military contractor, injured a U.S. soldier and wounded five other contractors.
A newly established group called Saraya Awliya al-Dam took responsibility. It’s not known for certain if this is an Iran-backed group but it claimed it was taking revenge for the death of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Qassem Soleimani.
The Biden administration strongly condemned the attack, but stopped short of military retaliation until now. “The development represents an early test for President Biden in his role as commander in chief,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Separately, the Journal reports that Iran may have been reinvigorated by the Biden administration’s decision to remove the terrorist designation from the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which Iran supports. The Houthis have launched drone strikes on Saudi Arabia since. Also, Iran-backed rebels from Iraq have launched attacks on Saudi’s north.
Voices in the Arab press, compiled by the Gatestone Institute’s Khaled Abu Toameh, say that Iran is testing President Joe Biden, who is seen as a “pushover.”
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, former editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper Ashraq Al-Awsa, writes: “It has only been eight weeks since President Joe Biden was sworn into office, but Iran has already tested him on several fronts.”
Saudi columnist, Hella Al-Mashouh showed little optimism when she wrote, “Today, we are facing an imminent Iranian threat and a lenient American administration policy toward this danger. We will face this Iranian threat over the next four years.”
Sayed Zahra, deputy editor of the Gulf newspaper Akhbar Al-Khaleej, writes “The Iranian message to Biden is clear. It wants him to understand that Iran has many terrorist cards and can undermine security and stability in the region and present his administration with major challenges.
“The Iranian regime, in other words, wants to force the Biden administration to yield to its demands regarding sanctions and the nuclear agreement. The Iranian regime bases its calculations on the basis that Biden is weak with regard to the nuclear file.”
Saudi Arabia doesn’t appear to be waiting around to see if Biden passes the test. Reuters reports that the Saudis over the weekend announced they will invest more than $20 billion to establish their own domestic military industry. The move is reportedly to reduce their dependence on the U.S., which recently announced it was freezing certain arms sales to the Kingdom.