by WorldTribune Staff, October 5, 2018
Radical Islam represents “the pre-eminent transnational terrorist threat to the United States and to the United States’ interests abroad,” U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said on Oct. 4 as he presented President Donald Trump’s new counterterrorism strategy.
The strategy gives greater priority to Iran, which Bolton called “the world’s central banker of international terrorism since 1979.”
“Iran-sponsored terrorist groups such as Lebanese Hizbullah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to pose a threat to the United States and our interests,” Bolton said.
Bolton, who backed Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, said the administration aims to force all importers of Iranian crude oil to halt their purchases.
U.S. sanctions targeting Iran’s oil and shipping industries will go into effect on Nov. 4.
“It’s our objective that there be no waivers from the sanctions that exports of Iranian oil and gas and condensates drops to zero. I’m not saying we’re necessarily going to achieve that but no one should be operating under any illusions what the objective is,” Bolton said.
“You can look at the possibility of reductions leading to zero, it doesn’t have to happen immediately perhaps,” he added.
The new counterterrorism strategy is the first issued since 2011 when the Obama administration focused almost exclusively on the threat posed by Al Qaida after the death of Osama bin Laden.
Iran was cited only once in the 2011 strategy as an “active” state sponsor of “terrorism.”
Trump’s strategy, analysts say, is aimed at containing Iran’s influence in the Middle East, curtailing its ballistic missile program and backing of terrorist groups and forcing it to the negotiating table by re-imposing sanctions.
Bolton said the new strategy includes pursuing extremists “to their source” and cutting them off “from their sources of support,” goals that in part appear aimed at Iran’s backing of Hizbullah and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Last week, at the United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) annual summit in New York, Bolton said: “According to the mullahs in Teheran, we are ‘the Great Satan,’ lord of the underworld, master of the raging inferno. So, I might imagine they would take me seriously when I assure them today: If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay.”
“The ayatollahs have a choice to make. We have laid out a path toward a bright and prosperous future for all of Iran, one that is worthy of the Iranian people, who have long suffered under the regime’s tyrannical rule,” added Bolton.