Opinion

Ex-Pentagon Analyst: Mideast Crisis May Spiral Out of Control After Beirut and Kerman Blasts

A Palestinian demonstrator waves a Palestinian flag.

The situation in the Middle East may soon intensify with more attacks expected after blasts in Lebanon and Iran, former Pentagon senior security policy analyst Michael Maloof told Sputnik.Two powerful blasts killed close to 100 people in the Iranian city of Kerman this week, with Daesh (ISIL/ISIS)* claiming responsibility for the terror attack. However, former Pentagon senior security policy analyst Michael Maloof does not rule out that the terrorist group “might be trying to take credit for something as a cover for somebody else.””I’m not surprised because ISIS has been known to work with the Israelis,” he told Sputnik. “We have an interesting context, particularly since the Israelis are very anti-Shia and ISIS is basically radical Sunnis. So it’s not surprising. And ISIS has a history of also detonating explosives in Iran. In fact, just a few years ago, they had a few explosions, I think, on the parliament building in Tehran. So it’s not unique.”In the wake of the attack, Iranian authorities had suggested that the bombing might be linked to Tehran’s opposition to Israel’s Gaza war, assuming that Tel Aviv or Washington could have been behind it. President Ebrahim Raisi’s deputy, Mohammad Jamshidi, tweeted that: “Make no mistake. The responsibility for this crime lies with the US and Zionist regimes (Israel) and terrorism is just a tool.”WorldHow Could Deadly Iran Bombing Reshape Emerging Middle Eastern Crisis? 4 January, 18:03 GMTThe US and Israel have strongly denied having a hand in the deadly bombing, claiming that Sunni radical groups, including Daesh, could have carried out the attack. Shortly after, a post on Daesh’s Telegram account popped up saying that the terrorist group was behind the blasts. In a statement, the terrorist organization named Omar al-Mowahid and Sayefulla al-Mujahid as the perpetrators.Nonetheless, the bombing has raised a lot of questions, especially given that Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of the political bureau of Hamas, was killed in a drone strike in southern Beirut just a day before. Al-Arouri’s assassination is widely believed to be committed by Israel.The Wall Street Journal claimed on December 1 that Israel’s intelligence services were preparing to kill Hamas leaders around the world. Extraterritorial targeted killings of individuals designated as terrorists by Tel Aviv is Israel’s decades-long practice touted as a way to prevent terrorist attacks and scale down “collateral damage.” Likewise, the use of proxy groups is nothing new for Israel or the US, as per Sputnik’s interlocutor.WorldDC Think Tank: Israel’s Beirut Bomb Forces Hamas, Hezbollah & Iran to Retaliate4 January, 13:52 GMTFor its part, the US has recently launched a military operation against Houthi rebels in the Red Sea and stepped up attacks on Shiite groups, belonging to the so-called Axis of Resistance, in Iraq.”There was what seemed to be a further retaliation this morning against one of the Shia leaders in Baghdad of one of the militant groups,” said Maloof. “That was a US strike with a missile. (…) So it was a direct hit and inside of Baghdad. And so I think that that’s probably going to cause the Iraqis to start putting increasing pressure for the US forces to get out altogether. That seems to be the trend. The parliament did it a few years ago and nothing ever happened. Nobody moved out. Now, the prime minister has made a statement to that effect recently and I think last week that he wants American troops out of Iraq. Whether the US will leave or not, I don’t know. I tend to doubt it because they have too much [interests there].”Maloof explained that Iraq is a strategic point for the US, particularly in guarding the troops that are still in Syria. However, the US contingent in Iraq and Syria has been increasingly under attack after the Israeli-Hamas war began.”We’ve had over 100 episodes now within Iraq of US assets being attacked. And responses have been sporadic. But this one was directed against a leader of a Hezbollah faction within Iraq, against Shia militia. I think the United States is trying to do all it can not to escalate things.” “They will respond to the immediate attack. And that’s why you haven’t seen any attack in the Red Sea, for example, at the launch sites of US missiles, for example, they just shoot the drones down. They don’t want to cause a spread of this thing. And that certainly will happen if the US warships in the Red Sea begin to hit the launch sites. So this thing could easily escalate so fast and make your head swim.”Michael Maloofformer Pentagon senior security policy analystThe former Pentagon officer believes that neither Iran nor Hezbollah seek to escalate tensions further. However, over the past few days the situation has turned tough in the Middle East and there’s more to come. “We are in a free fall,” he warned.”There are going to be others [attacks] unless someone begins to tamp this down a little bit and begins to try and bring some reasoning. But there’s no adults in the room anymore,” Maloof said.Neither the US nor the EU are regarded as credible when it comes to the Gaza conflict, according to the analyst, who argued that the international community needs to get the UN more activated, but “they tend to be dead on arrival.””We had a UN to try and prevent these kinds of things. We created the UN at the end of World War Two. And again, it’s that its Secretary-General needs to resign and appoint a more proactive one who really cares about peace and calls leadership on these things and calls out these atrocities that are going on and to draw public attention to it and try to get it stopped,” Maloof concluded.WorldSeveral Suspects in Terrorist Attack in Iran Detained – Interior Minister5 January, 12:41 GMT* Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS/Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.

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