The unrest in the Middle East has major implications for the United States, and U.S. servicemembers are under attack. Since the middle of October 2023, there have been at least 140 attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, according to ABC News. Iranian militia groups carried out the attacks, which are said to be occurring in solidarity with Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas war.
ABC News also notes that an attack on Iraq’s al-Assad airbase on January 20, 2024, resulted in U.S. servicemembers being injured. According to ABC News, Central Command reported that “multiple ballistic missiles and rockets were launched by Iranian-backed militants in Western Iraq targeting al-Assad airbase. A number of U.S. personnel are undergoing evaluation for traumatic brain injuries.”
In this attack, the militants used multiple ballistic missiles, according to Al Jazeera. The attack was in retaliation for Israel’s attack on a building that housed Iran’s elite forces in Damascus, Syria.
Terrorist Groups Are ‘Confronting America Directly’
Iran is displaying overt aggression toward the United States, and it is clear that tensions in the region are building. Houthi rebels are armed, funded and trained by Iran. The Houthi rebels, based in Yemen, have leveled attacks against ships in the Red Sea on commercial vessels.
The Houthi rebel group developed in the 1990s and rose to power in 2014 when they rebelled against the government in Yemen. As a result, the Yemeni government stepped down and created a major humanitarian crisis, according to Al Jazeera.
CNBC notes that according to Houthi leader Abdul-Malek al-Houthi, the Houthis are “confronting America directly.” They have vowed to continue attacking ships in the Red Sea until Israel’s blockage of Gaza is removed.
Iran Is Blatantly Supporting Anti-US Militant Groups in the Middle East
One of the most concerning things about the unrest in the Middle East is Iran’s blatant support of militant groups attacking U.S. interests. The U.S. military seized a boatload of “advanced conventional weapons” that were being sent from Iran to Houthi rebels, according to CBS News. Two Navy SEALs were lost at sea while attempting to board the Iranian vessel carrying the weapons.
The Houthi rebels are not the only militia group receiving support from Iran. An Iranian-backed militia group called the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack on the as-Assad airbase.
There are many others that are part of what is called the “axis of resistance” against mutual enemies such as Israel and the United States.
The Council on Foreign Relations notes that since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has developed an expanding number of allied militias while Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps trains, funds, and provides arms to promote Iranian objectives. These groups include Shiite Muslim-majority countries, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Decisive Leadership Is Needed
With consistent attacks against U.S. interests and military installations in the Middle East, decisive leadership is needed to mitigate these threats. A balance is needed to protect U.S. interests and U.S. allies in the region such as Israel, while mitigating the threat of escalating violence.