Republicans Support Strategy to Deter Iran, Democrats Skeptical

Thursday, 23 May, 2019 - 14:00
Washington- Hiba al-Qudsi

Reactions among US lawmakers varied after the closed-door session on Tuesday in the Senate with Trump administration officials.

The session focused on the administration’s movements in the Middle East and possible conflict with Iran.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, and US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford have earlier briefed the senators about Trump's strategy on Iranian regional threats.

US military moves, including the deployment of aircraft carriers and bombers, were aimed at deterring Iran, not waging war, officials stressed.

Confidential briefings led to varied reactions as Democrats were more skeptical than Republican members on whether Trump's administration had a strong strategy to ease tensions and pressure Iran to change its behavior.

Legislators' concerns remain unambiguous with Trump administration’s unilateral moves and decisions taken without referring to the Congress.

A number of lawmakers have pointed out that their biggest concern is that a conflict will be waged due to misjudgment or that tensions will escalate, leading to war between the two sides.

A congressional aide told Asharq Al-Awsat that during the briefing session on Tuesday, Democratic deputies had interrupted Pompeo and Shanahan several times, leading to Republicans' objections.

The Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham stressed that the US administration has deterred possible attacks on American soldiers and US interests and responded to Iran in an unprecedented manner.

Republican Party MP Michael McCaul said Washington's moves are considered defensive measures and deterrent tactics.

Sen. Mitt Romney, for his part, said Trump administration’s measures are quite appropriate and the intelligence services have a high degree of confidence that nothing will happen to harm US forces in the region.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio slammed in tweets on Wednesday the Democrats’ statements that the pressure campaign exerted on Tehran has failed to bring Iranians to the negotiating table.

“Trump’s strategy targets Iranian influence, Tehran’s support for terrorism and militias, the funds received by the IRGC to finance its activities, threats from ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction and preventing Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Rubio tweeted.

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