Lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties have voiced their concerns about the recent U.S. approach to Iran. They argue that previous administrations, irrespective of political party, underestimated Iran’s support for Hamas and other groups with intentions to destroy Israel.
During a Senate Banking Committee hearing on terrorism financing, Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island acknowledged the failure to take preemptive action against the flow of money to Hamas. He stated, “This was an area we all missed…we knew this money was going into Hamas, but there was no preemptive action by any of the major powers.”
Netanyahu’s Decision Criticized
Major Policy Error
Matthew Levitt, a former counterterrorism official at the Treasury Department and FBI, supported this perspective during the hearing. He argued that both the U.S. and Israel made a “major policy error” by facilitating the flow of money to Gaza, under the assumption that it would support government services for the over 2 million people living there. Levitt stated that this calculation has failed and needs to be reassessed.
Blaming Biden’s Administration
Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, along with many fellow Republicans, attributed responsibility for the attacks to President Joe Biden’s administration and its Iran policy. He expressed his belief that the current appeasement strategy is a failed policy and advocated for a maximum pressure campaign against Iran.
It is clear that lawmakers from both parties are concerned about the U.S.’s approach to Iran and its underestimation of Iran’s support for militant groups like Hamas. The issue has sparked criticism both in the U.S. and Israel, and there is a call for a reassessment of the current policies.
U.S. Republicans and the Biden Administration Clash over Iran Policy
Republican lawmakers, including Senator Daines, are raising concerns about the recent deal struck by the Biden administration that allows Iran to repatriate $6 billion in revenue from oil sales. Their main argument is that this policy not only jeopardizes U.S. security, but also increases the risk of a wider war in the region.
The attacks in Israel on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of at least 32 U.S. citizens, further fuel their concerns. However, the focus isn’t just on Israel as Daines pointed out a recent incident where a U.S. destroyer in the Red Sea shot down four cruise missiles and 15 drones launched by Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government estimates that Iran provides Hamas with over $350 million annually, a number that has been on the rise along with Iranian oil sales due to the Biden administration easing sanctions in the hopes of restarting negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
In response to these concerns, John Kirby, spokesman for Biden’s National Security Council, emphasized that the administration is well aware of Iran’s destabilizing behaviors. He highlighted the 40 additional sanction regimes imposed on Iran since Biden took office and stated that the Defense Department is actively working on increasing the U.S. military presence in the region while collaborating closely with allies to develop an integrated defense strategy.
Kirby further acknowledged that Iran continues to support groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, but reassured that the administration is actively monitoring their activities.