By C. Coffey
A recent US Intelligence report which appears to downplay the terrorist activities from Iran and its proxy groups has raised questions about what could have motivated the change from previous similar reports.
Cliff May, President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington DC think tank, called the Director of National Intelligence’s 2015 Worldwide Threat Assessment “disturbing.” May said he is worried that the Administration is attempting to minimize the terror threat of Iran and Hezbollah in an effort to lift sanctions against Iran, and further nuclear negotiations.
As first reported in The Times of Israel, the 2015 report to the Senate Armed Services Committee by James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, appears to largely omit the terrorism threat posed by Iran and Hezbollah when compared to previous reports.
“People are very concerned that the White House is whitewashing Iran and Hezbollah’s involvement with terrorism,” May told The Algemeiner. “If that’s the case, the next question is why. The working presumption might be to facilitate the nuclear negotiations. A related concern: that this could be a way to unravel the sanctions on Iran that are based on terrorism, rather than illicit nuclear activities. If any of that is accurate it should be alarming.”
The 2015 intelligence report does include a section on Iran. It mentions that Iran “is an ongoing threat to US national interests” because of its support to the Assad regime in Syria, promulgation of anti-Israeli policies, development of advanced military capabilities, and pursuit of its nuclear program.
The 2015 report also describes Iran’s efforts to combat “Sunni extremists” and “empower “Shia communities,” in addition to Iran’s desire to “dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia…” Though the report mentions Hezbollah, it does so in the context of Lebanon.
Unlike reports in previous years, there is no mention of Iran directly threatening US allies, or of an alarming increase in Hezbollah’s global terror activities.
For example, the 2014 national intelligence report to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence contained a section on Iran and Hezbollah that stated “[o]utside the Syrian theater, Iran and Lebanese Hizballah (sic) continue to directly threaten the interests of US allies. Hizballah (sic) has increased its global terrorist activity in recent years to level we have not seen since the 1990s.”
The 2013 intelligence report to that same committee contained similar sections on Iran and Hezbollah, but wrote that both were reluctant to confront the US directly.
The 2012 report even had a section entitled “The Threat from Iran” that assessed “Iran’s willingness to sponsor future attacks in the United States…”
Cliff May of FDD told The Algemeiner that there is no evidence that either Iran or Hezbollah has “forsworn terrorism in any sense.”
“Implying that Iran is a responsible power, makes it easier to hold negotiations over its nuclear program,” May said. “By removing these references, you are implying that they are becoming more responsible.”
May also cautioned against viewing Iran as an ally in light of its opposition to ISIS.
“It is a fallacy to believe that the answer to the Islamic state is the Islamic Republic,” May told The Algemeiner.
May said the Obama Administration needs to answer for the apparent omissions in the 2015 intelligence report.
“We should be demanding further explanation from the administration on what this is intended to achieve,” he said.