BEIRUT: The U.S. has omitted Iran and Hezbollah from its list of terror threats, according to an annual security assessment published by the Times of Israel Monday.

The unclassified report, titled ‘Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community’ was presented to the U.S. Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence on February 26.

The report has excluded Iran and Hezbollah from its list of terror threats to U.S. interests, after both had been included as threats in previous years.

In a 2014 report the National Intelligence director said that Iran and Hezbollah continue to directly threaten the interests of U.S. allies. The report claimed that Hezbollah had increased its “global terrorist activity.”

In the latest report, the terrorism section focuses exclusively on the rise of militant groups like ISIS and The Nusra Front.

“Sunni violent extremists are gaining momentum and the number of Sunni violent extremist groups, members, and safe havens is greater than at any other point in history,” read the report. “These groups challenge local and regional governance and threaten US allies, partners, and interests.”

Hezbollah, labeled as a terrorist organization by both the U.S. and the European Union, was mentioned once.

“Sunni extremists are trying to establish networks in Lebanon and have increased attacks against Lebanese army and Hezbollah positions along the Lebanese-Syrian border,” the report said. Hezbollah and the U.S. have become de-facto allies in Syria, with the common objective of combating ISIS and preventing its spread into Lebanon.

In a rare interview with the New York Times Last September, Hezbollah’s newly appointed public relations chief, Mohammed Afif, implicitly acknowledged the rise of an indirect coordination in the fight against terror between the party and Washington, though their broader goals and views sharply diverge.

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“All have an interest to keep the peace” in Lebanon, Afifi told the NYT, but added that each had its own ways to combat their common enemy.

The U.S. paper suggested that American intelligence had indirectly shared information with Hezbollah that helped the party stop suicide attacks in its stronghold in the southern suburb of Beirut.

Meanwhile, The United States and Iran are getting closer to a political deal that would set the stage for a landmark nuclear agreement.

The sides have twice extended the talks on a long-term accord. They signed an interim deal in November 2013 that gave Iran limited sanctions relief in exchange for some limitations on sensitive nuclear work.

 

Daily Star

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Vittorio Baldi
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Vittorio Baldi

Alleluja!