Lebanon’s Hezbollah may conduct attacks against US interests, and the Iran-backed group continues to try to push the United States out of the region, an intelligence report released Tuesday said.
“We expect Hezbollah, in coordination with Iran and other Iran-aligned Shia militants, to continue developing terrorist capabilities as a deterrent, as retaliatory options, and as instruments of coercion against its adversaries,” the US intelligence assessment said.
According to the 2021 Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, Hezbollah might conduct attacks against US and allied interests in response to rising tensions in the Middle East and as part of its effort to push the United States out of the region.”
The annual report focuses on the most direct, serious threats to the US for the upcoming year.
The report said that China was the leading threat to US national security, but Russia was also an immediate threat after Beijing. Iran and North Korea were also deemed to be top threats to the US. Later this week, newly confirmed CIA director Bill Burns and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines will testify and be asked about the report.
“The diffusion of the terrorist threat globally, competing priorities for many countries, and in some cases decreased Western [counterterrorism] assistance probably will expand opportunities for terrorists and provide them space to recover from recent setbacks,” Tuesday’s report said when discussing Hezbollah.
Hezbollah’s efforts to reduce US influence in Lebanon particularly and across the Middle East more generally intensified after former President Donald Trump ordered the killing of a top Iranian general in 2020, the report suggested. “Hezbollah maintains the capability to target, both directly and indirectly, US interests inside Lebanon, in the region, overseas, and—to a lesser extent—in the United States,” the report said.
As for Hezbollah’s backers in Iran, US intelligence assesses that Tehran is determined to maintain influence in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
It is pursuing a permanent military presence and economic deals in Syria as the conflict winds down, the US said. “Tehran almost certainly wants these things to build its regional influence, support Hezbollah, and threaten Israel,” the report stated.
In Yemen, Iran will remain a destabilizing force as Tehran’s support to the Houthis poses a threat to US partners and interests, “notably through strikes on Saudi Arabia.”
Turning to Afghanistan, where the US said on Tuesday that its troops would be withdrawn by September, Iran “will hedge its bets in Afghanistan, and its actions may threaten instability.”