Confronting Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East needs to be a “bipartisan priority,” the Democratic congressman who initiated a letter signed by 42 of his colleagues to United States Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, protesting Iranian interference in Syria, said on Wednesday.
“A permanent Iranian presence in Syria is unacceptable,” Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) told Ben Cohen at The Algemeiner. “I am concerned Iran is using the conflict in Syria to gain a military foothold on the doorstep of Israel and other regional allies, and supply terrorist organizations like Hezbollah with deadly weapons,” he added.
Schneider said he had been “proud to co-lead” the letter to Tillerson with his colleague Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.). “Preventing Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in the region must be a bipartisan priority,” the congressman stressed.
In the letter, sent to the Secretary of State on Tuesday, the lawmakers warned that Iran has propped-up the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria through powerful military and financial support. The letter further noted that up to 1,800 personnel from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are stationed in Syria, along with regular Iranian troops, marking “a significant departure from a historical policy of keeping regular armed forces within Iran’s borders.”
Highlighting that Iran is on the verge of establishing a ‘Shia Corridor’—a direct land corridor from Tehran through Baghdad to the Mediterranean—the letter declared that “any agreement or policy that allows Iran to station forces on or near Israel and Jordan’s border does not serve US interests.”
The letter to Tillerson came amid rising concern in the U.S. and Israel that the Trump administration has failed to confront Iran’s non-nuclear activities. Last month, the White House adopted a “neutral” stance, when Iranian-backed militia attacked U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in the northern city of Kirkuk with American-supplied weapons and vehicles. The operation was reportedly overseen by Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force.
The congressmen also urged Tillerson to develop a strategy to block Iranian arms supplies to Hezbollah in Lebanon and prevent the regime in Tehran from establishing a permanent base along Israel’s borders with the help of terror proxies. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman voiced concern this week, after thousands of Hezbollah fighters were redeployed by Iran to the borders of Syria with Israel and Jordan.
In an interview with a Saudi Arabian newspaper, IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Gadi Eisenkot voiced concern about the two Shiite crescents Iran is creating to assert its control over the Middle East.
[Photo: Rep. Brad Schneider]