Welcome to the CUFI Action Fund Update: Iran edition. Regular readers of the Update know Iran is a pariah state. You know they are the world’s leading sponsor of terror, that they are pursuing a nuclear weapons capability and have an abysmal human rights record. But sometimes these broad descriptions don’t paint the most detailed picture. So, let’s discuss the latest and greatest from  Tehran’s Tyrants.

A Bunch of Weapons

In case you missed it, the US Navy has been seizing a lot of Iranian weapons in the Arabian Sea as of late. The weapons, according to a forthcoming report, all originated from a single Iranian Navy port in the Islamic Republic. And despite the fact that the UN report won’t go so far as to acknowledge where the weapons are headed, we’ll go ahead and let you in on one of the international community’s worst kept secrets: the arms are headed to support one of Iran’s proxies, the Houthis, in Yemen.

According to Iran’s UN mission, “Iran has not sold, exported, or transferred any arms, ammunition, or related equipment to Yemen in contravention of Security Council resolutions.” In polite diplomatic discourse this is what we refer to as a steaming pile of hogwash. But it's par for the course – if your regime is led by a mass murderer and terrorism is your primary foreign policy tool, lying to the world hardly even rates amongst your sins.

What’s perhaps more interesting than Iran’s… hogwash, is the increased sophistication of Iran’s weapons. According to General Kenneth F. McKenzie (USMC), who oversees US military operations in the Middle East and South Asia, “Iran’s strategic capacity is now enormous… They’ve got overmatch in the theatre—the ability to overwhelm.”

McKenzie also noted recently that Iran has, “the ability to strike very precisely into Israel in a way they’ve not enjoyed in the past.”

In sum, while we focus a great deal on Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, their conventional forces are a strategic threat, and their use of proxies like Hezbollah and the Houthis indicate the length of their tentacles.

A Group of Patriots

This said, all the weapons in the world mean a bit less without planning and strategic direction. Evil as he was (and he was truly evil), the late Qasem Soleimani was an effective terrorist mastermind. His demise made the world a better place.

The Iranian regime disagrees with the much of the above and this past week decided to sanction more than 50 Americans for their alleged hand in Soleimani’s death. Among those listed are Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley, former White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien, and former American Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

Haley referred to being on the list as “a badge of honor,” going on to say, "When you get sanctioned by Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, you know you’re doing something right.” Haley is absolutely right.

A Proper Response

Unfortunately, some are referring to the list of sanctioned Americans as, effectively, a hit list. Given Iran’s penchant for murder, this may very well be a sobering and appropriate characterization. We were therefore heartened by President Biden’s National Security Advisor’s reaction to Iran’s latest outrage which noted in part, “We are united in the defense of our people. We will work with our allies and partners to deter and respond to any attacks carried out by Iran. Should Iran attack any of our nationals, including any of the 51 people named yesterday, it will face severe consequences.”

Speaking of appropriate responses, the Israelis, always mindful of Iran’s words and deeds, announced Monday that the Israel Defense Force is undergoing its most significant rearmament in years, and a significant portion of that effort is focused on contending with Iran. Putting an exclamation point on his announcement, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, “In terms of the Vienna talks, the nuclear talks — we are indeed concerned… [but!] Israel is not part of the agreements, Israel is not bound by what is written in the agreements if they are signed, and Israel will continue to ensure its full freedom of operation in any place and at any time, with no limitations.”

The news from Iran is indeed troubling. But there are numerous fronts on which we must engage. Next week, we’re going to have some announcements surrounding our efforts on multiple issues, so please, stay tuned, and thank you as always for your steadfast commitment to being among the most informed pro-Israel activists in the country.


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