A third truth weighing on the administration is that a government which was quietly slipped $1.3 billion in military aid by Secretary of State John Kerry a matter of weeks ago is on the verge of going under. Will Muslim Brotherhood loyalists be armed with more than just sticks if the ultimatum is ignored and the Islamist “National Alliance” becomes Morsi’s ragtag army? AlHayat TV reported this evening that the Muslim Brotherhood rejected the deadline, saying the rulers don’t need to take commands from the army.
It’s ammunition for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has been urging the White House and State Department from the advent of Morsi’s rule to stop sending fighter jets and tanks to the Islamist government. It also brings into question how Obama might similarly support a secular government not viewed in Washington’s eyes as legitimately elected but in need of support to fend off Islamist challenges.
And even though scattering from the Beltway for the July Fourth recess, lawmakers fired off concerns to Obama that his lack of foreign policy prowess could continue to mangle the U.S. reaction in another hotspot.
Every member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, led by Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), signed on to a letter to Obama on Friday cautioning the president to turn a highly skeptical eye toward new Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani.
Far from a free and fair election, they noted, “more than 600 potential candidates were disqualified by an unelected body of Islamic jurists, leaving only those approved by government-appointed clerics.”
“Iran’s election unfortunately has done nothing to suggest a reversal of Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capacity,” the lawmakers wrote. “…Decisions about Iran’s nuclear program and foreign policy rest mainly in the hands of Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamene’i. Khamene’i has recently reiterated his view that Iran has no reason to normalize relations with the United States.”
The letter expresses the omnipresent congressional anxiety that Obama doesn’t have a grasp on the acceleration of Iran’s nuclear program or the wherewithal to accept no less than a totally dismantled nuclear program — theirs, not ours.
“For this outcome to be realized, Iran must face intensifying pressure. This means the full implementation of current sanctions available to your administration, and further legislative steps to close loopholes and broaden our sanction’s reach,” the committee wrote. “…An added positive action would be extending sector-based sanctions to the mining, engineering, and construction-based sectors of Iran.”
“It is important that you leave no doubt in the minds of the Iranian government that the United States will do all it can to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.”
Perhaps Congress’ fear is stirred by indications, only highlighted by the past couple of days, that yet another tyrannical force will enjoy, in Washington’s eyes, the status of a legitimate government.
“We respect the vote of the Iranian people and congratulate them for their participation in the political process, and their courage in making their voices heard,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement after the mid-June vote. “…It is our hope that the Iranian government will heed the will of the Iranian people and make responsible choices that create a better future for all Iranians. The United States remains ready to engage the Iranian government directly in order to reach a diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.”