Clifford May is right to note that both China and the Islamic State and its affiliates pose a threat to Africa’s development and growth (“A sorry summit: Biden avoids pivotal issues in meeting with African lawyers,” Web, Jan. 4). But Africa must contend with another security threat: Iran.
Although it is far from Africa’s shores, the Islamic Republic poses a keen threat. The regime’s proxies operate with near impunity on the continent. Hezbollah is foremost among them.
The Lebanese-based terrorist group relies on Africa to help fill its coffers. Hezbollah engages in drug and ivory smuggling, poaching, and other illegal and illicit activities to bolster its finances. And Africa, along with swaths of Latin America, is key to providing Hezbollah with the money and support that it needs to target the United States and its allies, including Israel.
Iran, the terror analyst Danny Citrinowicz has noted, “has created an infrastructure of mosques, cultural centers, charitable networks and educational institutions which have spread its revolutionary ethos to Africa.” In short: Africa provides Iran with more than money, but also a reservoir of strategic depth in the ideological realm.
Importantly, there are real costs to allowing Iranian influence in Africa to go unchecked. The U.S. and its allies should work to make Iran pay for its imperial ambitions, instead of benefiting from them.
The writer is a senior research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis
(Note: A slightly different version of this letter to the editor appeared in the Washington Times on Jan. 5, 2023)