Congress decides to go to war with US allies in the Middle East
Regarding Iran and its Mideast foes, Congress has come to a strange conclusion: The enemy of our enemy is actually . . . the bad guy. It’s true: Even as Iran’s Mideast aggression increasingly threatens US assets and interests, Congress is looking to tighten the noose around Tehran’s Sunni Arab rivals.What Congress is doing is not in the strategic interests of the US. The US has had worse allies than those in the Middle East. We had no trouble shipping arms and food to the Soviet Union in World War II despite Stalin's mass murder of millions of his own people. He was far worse than the Saudis and yet we were much more generous with him. The Saudis are actually paying for the arms being used to resist Iranian aggression through its proxy forces in Yemen. The Saudis are under actual attack by those proxy forces. Iran is looking for a strategic foothold to surround the Saudis and get control not only of the straights where the current conflict with the US is taking place but to do likewise in the Red Sea. What Congress is proposing is strategic nonsense.
As President Trump huddled with his team Thursday, weighing a response to Iran’s downing of a US drone over international waters in the Gulf, over on Capitol Hill a bipartisan group of senators celebrated their success in nixing a White House plan to sell sophisticated arms to Saudi Arabia and other Mideast allies.
Iran’s attack on the US drone followed assaults on oil tankers in the Gulf. America has long vowed to protect navigation on the high seas, and disrupting it is widely considered an act of war.
Some blame the attacks on Trump’s pullout of the flawed Iran nuclear deal. Yet Iranian aggression started long before that. Indeed, it’s been escalating for decades, manifesting in Mideast wars in Syria, Yemen, Gaza and beyond. It’s waged with proxies. And it’s meant to export its Shiite revolutionary zeal throughout the Mideast and beyond.
Meanwhile, Trump, who doesn’t shy from trade wars or wars of words, is famously averse to military war. He’d sooner let Mideast allies do their own fighting in their own region — and even help them if it’s in our interest.
Congress doesn’t seem to agree. On Thursday, the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution to block a White House-planned, $8 billion sale of sophisticated arms to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.