Due to “poor policy choices” in the Middle East, “Iran is winning,” meaning that the United States needs a “clear and coherent strategy to push back” a leading foreign policy voice in the United States Senate wrote Monday in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal.
Describing his recent trip to Jordan and Israel as “unnerving,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – S.C.) called on the Trump administration to “combat Iran’s growing influence” in the region.
After noting that Gen. Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. Central Command had recently told a Congressional hearing that “Iran’s malign activities across the region pose the long-term threat to stability in this part of the world,” Graham recounted signs of that threat that he witnessed during his trip to the Middle East.
Israeli soldiers pointed out to the senator villages visible from Israel that were controlled by ISIS and others by Syrian forces aided by Hezbollah troops. He expressed concern that actions must be taken to prevent Syria from becoming “a launchpad for more rockets into Israel.”
Graham also warned about “Hezbollah’s militarization of southern Lebanon.” He noted that when Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was supposed “to ensure that southern Lebanon would not continue to be a threat to Israel.” But now, eighteen years later, the UN’s failure to protect Israel is manifested as “we were stunned by how pervasive sophisticated rockets have become in the area.” The threat of the rockets is magnified by Hezbollah’s ability to manufacture new more precise rockets.
“Soon Israel will have to attack these rocket sites,” Graham wrote, “which Hezbollah has integrated into civilian infrastructure such as apartment buildings, schools and hospitals. Israeli leaders are concerned that this integration will lead to high civilian casualty rates if the Jewish state has to defend itself.” He also vowed to hold hearings on the Iran-sponsored military buildup in Lebanon, how UNIFIL failed, and the need to boost missile defense funding for Israel.
Graham wants the Trump administration to enforce no-fly zones in Syria to allow refugees the ability to go home and train opposition forces to oppose the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
As it stands, Israel will be facing increased threats from Iran and its proxies to its north, while refugees will continue to put stress on Israel’s neighbor, Jordan. Due to “poor policy choices” of the Obama administration, Iran and Russia have filled “a vacuum” in the Middle East. It is necessary Graham concluded, to adopt “a clear and coherent strategy to push back—not continue a policy of indifference.”
[Photo: Iranian-American Forum / YouTube]