Iran Watch: Iran’s Shadow War in Africa

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The Islamic Republic plants spies and weapons across the continent in a bid to outmaneuver the West

The Cyclone-class patrol ship USS Sirocco closed in on a small boat in the Arabian Sea. After boarding, the American warship’s sailors discovered hundreds of Kalashnikov assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The source — Iran. The destination — Houthi rebels in Yebel.

The March 28 incident, one of three within weeks, highlighted the deep and unofficial ties between Iran and proxy organizations around the world. Besides Yemen, these engagements have appeared as efforts to prop up Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad during the ongoing Syrian Civil War.

Yet even farther away, Iran has interfered and plotted in the capitals of countries as far as Argentina and the United States, and meddled in sub-state groups as disparately aimed as Shia radicals in Nigeria and criminal elements throughout Latin America.

Sub-Saharan African states, in particular, have long been the setting of Iranian intrigue. In a contradictory arrangement, the public face of Iran’s relationship with Africa is that of economic strengthening for mutual benefits, while simultaneously engaging in covert action undermining the stability of the very economies Tehran seeks to work with.

Read the Remainder at War is Boring