July 13, 2021
Pressure is mounting for the Biden administration to respond with an “iron fist” against the scaled-up attacks of Iran-aligned militias against US forces in Iraq and Syria.
Highly concerned by US President Joe Biden’s desire to return to the Iran nuclear deal, legislators in Washington raised the alarm on Tehran’s destabilizing activity and behavior in the Middle East, where Iranian proxies actively attack US militaries.
These assaults overshadowed a secret briefing held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday evening.
The full committee hearing, which was initially dedicated to the repeal of the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force in Iraq, soon moved on to include a briefing on attacks by Iran-backed militias.
Several committee members requested adding detailed reports on the attacks during the secret briefing, committee sources, who requested anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The briefing was given by officials from the US Department of State, led by Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood, in addition to officials from the US Department of Defense, led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Dana Stroul.
In the closed session, committee members, especially Republicans, tied the congressional effort to repeal the 2002 Iraq war authorization with deep concerns around the US’ ability to respond to attacks against its forces in the region.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz submitted an amendment to the repeal measures, in which he seeks to preserve the US president’s ability to launch strikes on Iran and its proxies.
Many Republicans support Cruz’s proposal while stressing the need for Biden to act forcefully and decisively against “Iranian attacks on US forces.”
Alabama Representative Mike Rogers, the top Republican on the House Armed Services panel, urged Biden to “show strength in the face of these attacks.”
“It needs to be made clear that if our troops are attacked in any part of the world that we will not only respond, but we will respond quickly and forcefully,” said Rogers.