GOP lawmakers urge Kerry to change tack on Iran
Fifty House Republicans are urging Secretary of State John Kerry to change his approach to Iran following a series of incidents culminating in Iran detaining 10 U.S. sailors this week.
“At a critical moment for U.S. foreign policy, we hope that you will reconsider your strategic alignment with the Iranian government and give full support to our Middle Eastern allies,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Kerry.
Earlier this week, Iran held the sailors for 16 hours after their two ships strayed into Iran’s territorial waters.
The Obama administration has come under fire for how it has portrayed the incident as a diplomatic success because of the relatively quick release of the sailors.
But critics say Iran should not have detained the sailors in the first place and that Iran mistreated them. Iran released pictures and videos of the sailors kneeling with their hands behind their heads and apologizing.
In addition to this week’s incident, the lawmakers expressed concern in their letter about Iran’s ballistic tests in October and November in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. The administration was reportedly close to announcing new sanctions because of the tests but decided to hold off.
The lawmakers also highlighted the increase in tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran after protestors ransacked its embassy in Tehran over the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric. Saudi allies Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Sudan also ended or reduced diplomatic relations with Iran.
“Strategically, this administration has created a scenario where foreign policy decision-making is based solely on justifying the competence of the Iran deal,” the lawmakers wrote. “The United States appears unwilling to leverage regional momentum against an Iranian government that has spent decades supporting terrorism and other anti-American policies.”
The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Robert Pittenger (N.C.) and was cosigned by Reps. David Rouzer (N.C.), Phil Roe (Tenn.), Mike Simpson (Idaho), Michael Burgess (Texas), Randy Weber (Texas), Doug LaMalfa (Calif.), Dennis Ross (Fla.), Thomas Rooney (Fla.), Austin Scott (Ga.), Bill Posey (Fla.), Tim Walberg (Mich.), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Joe Wilson (S.C.), Randy Hultgren (Ill.), Brian Babin (Texas), Marlin Stutzman (Ind.), Bob Gibbs (Ohio), Todd Rokita (Ind.), John Ratcliffe (Texas), Rodney Davis (Ill.), Lamar Smith (Texas), Alex Mooney (W.Va.), Ander Crenshaw (Fla.), Mike Bost (Ill.), Joe Pitts (Pa.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Bruce Westerman (Ark.), Rick Allen (Ga.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), Barbara Comstock (Va.), Steve Russell (Okla.), Luke Messer (Ind.), Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), Dan Benishek (Mich.), John Katko (N.Y.), Chris Stewart (Utah), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Tom Rice (S.C.), Trent Kelly (Miss.), Rick Crawford (Ark.), Mike Rogers (Ala.), Lynn Jenkins (Kan.), Susan Brooks (Ind.), Chris Collins (N.Y.), Bradley Byrne (Ala.), Buddy Carter (Ga.), Brett Guthrie (Ky.) and Martha McSally (Ariz.).