BRUSSELS, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- When President Barack Obama leaves the White House later this month, he will leave behind a shocking legacy of death and destruction in the Middle East. His foreign policy vision, which saw the United States focus on cooperation with Iran as its core strategy, has unlocked a Pandora's box of conflict and sectarian strife across the zone.
Obama has now belatedly, during the closing days of his administration, come to realize that the nuclear deal with Iran and his concessions to that ruthless regime have in fact not only threatened the security of the Middle East, but have even undermined the interests of the United States. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Turkey have tried in vain to prevent Iran's aggressive expansionism in the region, but they have been repeatedly thwarted by U.S. empathy for the mullahs' regime. His failure to back the Syrian opposition has allowed the bloody civil war in that country to rage on into its seventh year, costing hundreds of thousands of lives and sparking the huge migration crisis in Europe.
Following the nuclear deal, a sum of $150 billion of frozen assets was released to Iran by the U.S. administration, providing a windfall for the Tehran government, which was teetering on the brink of economic collapse. But far from investing in its own people, the fascist mullah-led regime used this money to redouble its spending on exporting terror through the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Quds Force, both of which are listed terrorist organizations in the West and are involved in almost every conflict in the Middle East. As well as Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Yemen's Houthi rebels, Iran funds and supplies Hezbollah in Lebanon and the brutal Shi'ia militias in Iraq.
Demonstrating complete disdain for the West, the Iranian regime has consistently breached the nuclear deal. Last March, two Qadr-H missiles were fired in open defiance of a U.N. Security Council resolution tied to the agreement. The missiles were chillingly marked with the phrase: "Israel must be wiped out" and the test firing took place provocatively on the same day that the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel. Last August, Vladimir Putin, in a further flagrant signal of aggression to the West, sent the first shipment of Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran.
But under Obama's misguided Middle East policy, his determined efforts to do deals with the so-called "moderate" and "smiling" Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have provided a green light for Tehran's dogmatic expansionist policy. Rouhani is in fact in charge of a venally corrupt government, which has executed around 3,000 people since he took office in 2013. Ten have been hanged this year. Mass hangings are now the order of the day; many are carried out in public, even in football stadiums. But this should come as no surprise; in a further scandalous development it has been revealed that the mass-murder by the regime in 1988 of over 30,000 political prisoners from the opposition People's Mojahedin of Iran was supervised by Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, who has been appointed by Rouhani as his justice minister.
Despite repeated warnings, Obama began his administration by capitulating to Iranian demands to back the corrupt and murderous Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister in Iraq. Maliki was a puppet of the mullahs, doing their bidding by opening a direct route for Iranian troops and equipment heading to Syria to bolster the murderous Assad regime. Iran's support for Maliki in Iraq and for Assad in Syria, two corrupt dictators who repressed and brutalized their own people, resulted in the rise of Daesh, also known as the Islamic State.Thanks to U.S. acquiescence over Tehran, Daesh grew and became a threat to the whole world.
Obama compounded this grievous mistake by providing American military support and air cover for the genocidal campaign being waged by pro-Iranian Shi'ia militias in Iraq. Once again Iran exploited its role in ousting Daesh as a means for implementing its ruthless policy of ethnic cleansing to annihilate the Sunnis in Iraq's al-Anbar Province. Horrific sectarian atrocities were committed during the so-called "liberation" of the ancient cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. The Shi'ia militias, who formed the main part of the force fighting to recapture these cities from Daesh and are now engaged in the battle to recapture Mosul, are led by Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian terrorist Quds Force. Soleimani has also played a key role in Syria and the massacre in Aleppo.
Tehran is relentlessly strengthening its grip over Iraq. Corruption and poor training has rendered the Iraqi army almost useless, leaving a vacuum, which the Iranian regime has been quick to fill, pressurizing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi into allowing the Iranian-funded militias to take control of military operations. Political disarray in Baghdad, combined with Obama's directionless and dysfunctional American foreign policy, has paved the way for Iran to consolidate its hold in Iraq.
President-elect Donald Trump will have the unenviable task of trying to sort out Obama's Middle East mess. There are many people on his team who believe that Iran is the main source of conflict in the Middle East and as such, poses a greater threat to the West than North Korea or even Russia. It will be interesting to see if Trump can slam the lid back down on the mullahs' Pandora's box before the Iranian malignancy is allowed to metastasize.
Struan Stevenson, president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association, was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14).