Yesterday, Iran’s hardline regime accused the United States of fueling “Iran phobia” by deploying missile defense systems in several Persian Gulf countries that increasingly feel threatened by Iran. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehrmanparast complained that “We regard these (U.S.) measures as a conspiracy and a ploy by foreign countries to create a sense of Iran phobia.” He attacked U.S. officials for spreading fear: “Because they have lost their presence in Iran, they feel they have no foothold and in order to justify their presence (in the region) they make such an insinuation.”
The vitriolic reaction of Iran’s regime came in response to reports that the United States is expanding the missile defense systems it has deployed on land and at sea near Arab gulf states that are increasingly anxious about Iran’s ballistic missile force – the largest in the Middle East. The U.S. is deploying Patriot anti-missile defenses to four of Iran’s neighbors: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
All four countries have strong reasons for “Iran phobia” based on past experience with Iran’s hostile regime. Kuwait and Bahrain have been attacked by Iran-supported terrorists. All four countries found that their oil tankers were targeted for attack by Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, which was started by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein after Iranian revolutionaries sought to foment a Shia rebellion against his Sunni-dominated regime. All four joined the Gulf Cooperation Council, a collective defense alliance formed in reaction to the threats posed by Iran’s radical regime. And all four have watched with mounting concern as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s belligerent regime has forged ahead on its nuclear program, conducted massive air and naval exercises close to their shores and trumpeted the growing capabilities of Iran’s ballistic missile force.
Clearly, the United States does not need to stoke “Iran phobia” among Iran’s neighbors. Tehran already is doing a bang up job of that itself.
For more on Iran, see: Iran Briefing Room