Washington and Tehran dial up war of words as risk of another military action in the Middle East rises.”
On a spring morning in 2016, a retired four-star general, who was forced out of his job by then-President Barack Obama, spoke before defence and foreign policy experts gathered just blocks from the White House.
The 65-year old speaker, with silver hair and puffy eyes, was blunt. For all the dangers al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS) pose in the Middle East, he warned that the Iranian regime “is the single most enduring threat to stability and peace”.
He recalled that as commander of US troops in the Middle East, the first three questions he would ask his subordinates every morning “had to do with Iran and Iran and Iran”.
“We only pray, the rest of us outside this town, that someone good is listening here,” he told the Washington crowd, as he issued an ominous prediction: “The future is going to be ghastly”, and that “the next president is going to inherit a mess”.