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Cameron brands Iran ‘malign influence’ after shipping attacks


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UK foreign secretary David Cameron has branded Iran “a thoroughly malign influence in the region and in the world” in an interview published Sunday in which he also pledged stepped-up deterrence towards Tehran.

The former British prime minister’s warning echoes accusations by the United States Friday that Iran is involved in attacks on commercial ships by Yemen’s Huthi rebels, providing drones, missiles and tactical intelligence.

In the latest instance of a vessel being targeted in or near Middle Eastern waters, Washington said Saturday that a tanker struck earlier off the coast of India was targeted “by a one-way attack drone fired from Iran”.

Cameron, who this week visited the region and discussed with his Egyptian counterpart Israel’s war in Gaza as well as the volatile situation in the Red Sea, accused Tehran of aiding various “proxies” there.

“Iran is a thoroughly malign influence in the region and in the world – there’s no doubt about that,” he told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

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“You’ve got the Houthis, you’ve got Hezbollah, you’ve got the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq that have actually been attacking British and American bases, troops. And, of course, Hamas.

“So you’ve got all of these proxies, and I think it’s incredibly important that, first of all, Iran receives an incredibly clear message that this escalation will not be tolerated.”

Britain’s top diplomat, who returned to frontline politics last month after stepping down as prime minister in the aftermath of losing the 2016 Brexit referendum, said London would increase cooperation with its allies over Tehran.

“We need to work with our allies to develop a really strong set of deterrent measures against Iran, and it’s important that we do that,” he added.

“The level of danger and insecurity in the world is at an extremely high level compared with previous years and decades, and the Iran threat is a part of that picture.”

Britain will contribute warships to the new maritime security initiative in the Red Sea and surrounding waters, known as Operation Prosperity Guardian.

Earlier this month the UK also unveiled new sanctions targeting Iran’s “decision makers and those doing its bidding”, including the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force.

Asked if London was poised to impose other measures, Cameron said that was “not for public consumption”.

But he added it wanted to send “a very clear warning to the Houthis and to their Iranian backers that we’re not going to tolerate these continued attacks on shipping”. (AFP)


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