The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress (with help from some Democrats) are slowly and quietly escalating tensions with Iran, reversing course from Obama administration policy, and potentially putting the United States once again on a path to war with the Islamic Republic.
First, in Yemen, President Trump has significantly increased military assistance to the Saudi-led coalition fighting al Qaeda and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels there, in what the Washington Post described as “a clear signal of the administration’s intention to move more aggressively against Iran.”
And in the Senate, Foreign Relations Committee chair Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) recently unveileda new Iran sanctions bill — The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 (S. 722) — that seeks to place new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program, support for terrorism, and human rights abuses. The measure has bipartisan support, with a handful of Democratic senators co-sponsoring who also supported the Iran nuclear deal. However, progressive groups are warning that the bill could undermine the nuclear agreement and put the U.S. back on a path to war.
TOWNHALL SAMPLE QUESTIONS
- Do you support ramping up hostilities with Iran and putting the United States back on the path to war?
- Do you agree that the Iran nuclear deal has made the world safer? If so, will you oppose the Iran sanctions bill currently in the Senate that experts say will undermine the agreement?
- Trump wants to ramp up U.S. military action in Yemen — why do we want to add fuel to the humanitarian crisis there, and risk war with Iran?
Trump’s military escalation in Yemen is largely about confronting Iran and puts the U.S. on a path to war.
- “The Pentagon views increased support for the Saudi-led coalition as one way of potentially pushing back against Iran’s influence in Yemen, as well as shoring up ties with an ally that felt neglected by the previous administration.” [Source, Source]
Greater U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis, and further enable possible war crimes linked to the Saudi-led coalition.
- The U.N. warned in January about possible war crimes being committed by the Saudi led coalition. Observers say the Saudis are targeting civilians and “the fighting has killed 10,000 and left 370,000 children malnourished and 10,000 more dead of preventable disease. Nearly 3 million Yemenis have been pushed out of their homes.” [Source, Source]
The Senate Iran sanctions bill S.722 endangers the Iran nuclear deal; and emboldens the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and hardliners in Iran.
- S.722 mandates a broad application of sanctions that could restrict legitimate commerce and deny Iran many of the economic benefits it sought in agreeing to roll back and dismantle much of its nuclear program. This move would make the U.S. in violation of the spirit of the Iran deal. [Source]
- Limiting legitimate commerce will increase the IRGC’s resources and power because of its control of the black market and increase support for hardliners in Iran who seek justification for anti-American rhetoric and policies and who oppose moderate President Hassan Rouhani.
- The Iran deal mandates that nuclear related sanctions be lifted on Iranian individuals and entities as Tehran continues to comply. But S.722 adds new conditions for Iranian parties to meet before sanctions can be lifted. [Source]
- Adding new conditions for sanctions relief will provide the Iranians ammunition to undermine the nuclear agreement and possibly put the United States in violation of its terms.
S.722 designates the IRGC a terror organization, something U.S. intelligence and defense officials have opposed.
- Senior defense and intelligence officials have cautioned against designating the IRGC a terror organization because it could endanger U.S. troops in Iraq fighting ISIS, and it “would be an unprecedented use of a law that was not designed to sanction government institutions.” [Source]
- Designating IRGC a terror group would strengthen the IRGC and provide incentives for it to sabotage the Iran nuclear deal. [Source]
The United Nations continues to verify that the Iran deal is working in blocking all paths to a bomb. [Source]
Undermining the Iran nuclear deal puts the U.S. back on the path toward direct military confrontation with Iran.
- Placing additional sanctions that undermine the nuclear deal could be interpreted as the United States failing to meet its own obligations under the agreement.
- If the U.S. is deemed at fault in the nuclear deal’s collapse, it will lose the support of its international negotiating partners on the Iran deal and face isolation in reining in Iran’s program.
- Without the nuclear deal in place, the U.S. faces greater probability of war with Iran.