Iran willing to ‘expend every Arab life’ in efforts to destroy Israel, former US security adviser says

Iran willing to 'expend every Arab life' in efforts to destroy Israel, former US security adviser says

Iran is willing to “expend every Arab life” in its efforts to end Western influence in the Middle East and destroy Israel, a former US national security adviser has said.

HR McMaster, who held the position between 2017 and 2018 during the Trump presidency, told Sky News that there is still a risk of escalation between Iran and Israel after the two nations carried out attacks on each other in April.

Iran said its attack on Saturday 13 April was a retaliation after two of its generals were killed in a strike Tehran blames on Israel.

Israel responded to the Iranian attack by carrying out a strike on Isfahan – home to both a military base and nuclear site in Iran.

Asked whether there could be further escalation between the two regional rivals, Mr McMaster said: “Iran is pursuing a strategy in which they hope we continue to pretend like we don’t understand what the return address is for all this violence.

“And in a horrible, cynical way, Iran is willing to expend every Arab life, if necessary, to accomplish its objectives of pushing the United States, the United Kingdom and and our allies out of the region as the first step in establishing hegemonic power in the region and destroying Israel.

“That’s really what they want to do. And I think the longer that we act as if we don’t know what the return address is, Iran is going to continue to escalate these horrible actions to create horrible human suffering not only on the part of the Israelis, but on the part of the Palestinians too.”

Israelis hang around apparent remains of a ballistic missile after Iran’s attack in April. Pic: Reuters

Asked whether the West could be drawn into leading a response to any future Iranian aggression in the region, Mr McMaster said: “Absolutely, I think it’s coming because Iran seems to be emboldened, even though they have all sorts of internal dissent happening now… They seem to be emboldened internationally… I think we to need tell the Iranians we’re going to begin to impose severe costs on you.

“And these don’t have to be military right away.

“I think there’s tonnes of room to enforce the sanctions that are already the books, the sanctions that the Biden administration chose not to enforce.”

Mr McMaster also said that the reduction in capacity of the UK’s armed forces “broke my heart” as military sources and Cold War veterans have warned Britain is increasingly vulnerable to the threat of missiles and drones after decades of cost-saving cuts.

He added that it would be “difficult for the UK to sustain operations” for “ample duration to fight and win” in a future conflict”.

In apparent reference to some NATO countries not meeting their defence spending targtes, Mr McCaster continued: “I think we have to realise that we have been over-optimistic for too long about the geostrategic conditions and the need to demonstrate strength to prevent further conflict.”

His comments come after UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps called for the new NATO target for defence spending to increase from the current 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) to 2.5%.

Follow Sky News on WhatsApp
Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

Tap here

Mr Shapps warned the world could be engulfed by wars involving China, Russia, North Korea and Iran in the next five years.

Asked whether the recent $61bn military aid package for Ukraine will have an impact on the war there, Mr McMaster said: “It’s a game-changer… I hope it’s not too late…

“Ukraine is are fighting as best they can with what they’ve got. We’ve got to get them the ammunition now.”

He added that the “halting” and “inconsistent” manner in which US aid has been provided has “denies” Ukraine the ability to protect its people and stop the Russian offensive.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.

Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

You can receive breaking news alerts on a smartphone or tablet via the Sky News app. You can also follow @SkyNews on X or subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with the latest news.