Iran is the “most disruptive power in the Middle East,” according to the US’s senior military general in the region, who urged on regional partners to address rising concerns.

On Tuesday, US Central Command (Centcom) chief Gen. Erik Kurilla told Al Arabiya that addressing the Islamic Republic’s threat remained a key priority, but that it would require regional collaboration.

 

“The United States’ position is that we will not tolerate a nuclear Iran, but our concerns about Iran extend beyond that,” Kurilla added.

Other worries raised by the Centcom director include Iran’s ballistic missile program and its backing for Iran-backed militias and proxies, which require “a determined effort from us and our regional security partners.”

 

He was in Saudi Arabia as part of a “listening tour,” having already visited Egypt, and stated he would return to the Kingdom on multiple occasions.

“This visit to the Centcom region… is primarily an opportunity for me to gain insights from our partners here, and in doing so, I’m looking for security gaps, threats, and possibilities for our partners and the region,” Kurilla continued.

 

“In the following months and years, I’ll return to the kingdom numerous times.” I shall be demonstrating American commitment to Saudi Arabia and the region in this way.”

Kurilla, who took over as the chief US military envoy in the Middle East from Gen. Frank McKenzie earlier this year, emphasized the importance of the US-Saudi collaboration, calling it “underpinning our Middle East policy.”

 

It established a new naval task force made up of international military personnel and 15 US recruits from the combined maritime forces as part of its continuous commitment to the region.

 

The new force would focus on smuggling and piracy in response to concerns about an increase in the number of weapons going into Yemen and other parts of the Gulf, which are suspected of being used against civilian areas in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

 

“We are concerned about advanced conventional weaponry being smuggled by sea to help Houthi operations,” Kurilla said.

“As a result, anti-smuggling operations with the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, as well as preserving safe and secure waterways, a crucial obligation for us and our partners, will be a priority for me.”

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