Important new Middle East developments give the US and its allies a chance to push back on Iranian hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East, The Hill reported.
Key will be congressional focus on not just the Iran nuclear deal, known as the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Program of Action, but on sanctions legislation to prevent Iranian missile proliferation.
Ironically, it was the administration’s refusal to certify that the Iran nuclear “deal” was in the national security interests of the US that served as the vehicle for Congress to act. By sending a strong message to Congress to reconsider the nuclear deal, important attention has focused on Iran’s missile proliferation.
Surprisingly, a majority in Congress appear to agree that the 2015 was in error by letting Iran off the hook for its missile threats and Iran’s support for what US Secretary of Defense James Mattis calls terrorist “mayhem.”
Thus, House and Senate efforts have developed to add special sanctions against Iran for its export of missiles and missile technology, especially to the Houthi terrorists in Yemen.
And as part of a public diplomatic effort earlier this month, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley displayed recovered Iranian-made missile parts from Saudi Arabia in a presentation at Bolling Air Force base.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia focused attention on Iran’s role in the missiles launched by Houthi terrorists at Saudi oil terminals, airports and most recently at the Royal Palace in Riyadh, by calling such attacks an “act of war.”
Finally, in a related matter, the split from Houthi terrorists of forces loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Saleh give hope that the war in Yemen can be ended, and with it Iran’s quest for hegemonic control of a key geographic bridge to control two critical waterways, the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea, through which millions of barrels of oil move each day.
The Mullah’s missiles
At a news conference at Bolling, hundreds of missiles launched against Saudi Arabia over the past two years were in the words of Haley, shown to be “Iranian made, Iranian sent and Iranian given” to the Houthi terrorists in Yemen.
Haley presented the components of two Scud-class 37-foot-long missiles as evidence that Iran is violating the terms of its nuclear agreement, especially UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
Complimenting the administration’s campaign are parallel efforts in Congress to push back against Iran’s missile proliferation. There are now several bills in Congress to ramp up sanctions against Iran.
A bill from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), will use the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act to further go after Iran’s missile proliferation.
It is the only oversight mechanism Congress has on the nuclear deal because the JCPOA was never submitted to Congress as a treaty.
Corker emphasized that he and Senator Cotton have “taken pains to ensure that we are in no way are altering the JCPOA.” But their bill would require a broader look at Iran’s missile and terror activities.
Congress is also contemplating legislation sponsored by Republican Reps. Elena Rose Lehtinen of Florida and Ted Poe of Texas, senior members of the House of Foreign Affairs Committee, to sanction Iran for supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen and for sending weapons to the Houthis including ballistic missiles.
Another bill by Corker, would target Iranian individuals engaged in “destabilizing” or terrorist supporting activities including missile proliferation.
It passed in the House on October 30 by a vote of 432-2. The bill directs the Departments of State, Defense, and Treasury and the director of National Intelligence to submit a strategy every two years for deterring conventional and asymmetric Iranian activities that threaten the US and key allies in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond.
The bill also requires the president to impose asset blocking and US exclusion sanctions against any person that materially contributes to: 1. Iran's ballistic missile or weapons of mass destruction programs, or 2. the sale or transfer to Iran of specified military equipment or the provision of related technical or financial assistance.
Iranian Mayhem and US Lives
Now, some US officials may acknowledge the Iranian role in what Mattis describes as Middle East “mayhem” but still believe our fight is not in Yemen but against more pressing problems here at home.
We need to remember that the Iranian Quds Force commander is Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, who is responsible for the deaths or injuries of thousands of US soldiers in Iraq.
The bad guys in Iran have been at war with the US for years. But we didn’t realize it. We now have a chance to wake up, and take additional important steps to seriously crack down on Iran and its war of “mayhem” against the US. In that way, we can have the back of our soldiers even as we rollback Iranian hegemonic ambitions.