Amid a surge in Iranian attacks on commercial oil tankers, one senator is readying legislation that will enlist Israel and its Arab allies in the fight against Tehran’s terrorism.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) told the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday that she is leading efforts to forge a coalition between the United States, Israel, and other Arab signatories to the Abraham Accords. The military coalition would specifically seek to thwart a massive uptick in Iranian attacks on commercial ships traversing through the region. In an unprecedented move, the countries would also link their missile detection systems together to greatly increase reconnaissance on Iran’s missile and drone programs.
Since President Joe Biden took office, Iran has tried to seize nearly 20 oil tankers as they make their way through the Strait of Hormuz, a critical oil shipping route. The administration also has avoided enforcing sanctions on Iran’s illicit oil trade, helping the regime rake in record profits. Tehran’s terrorism has become so problematic that the Biden administration announced on Monday it will send additional war planes into the region to help deter attacks.
Ernst blamed Biden’s "strategy of appeasement" for emboldening Iran’s hardline regime, saying the only solution is to build a coalition that can "start pushing back on these tanker seizures." The senator’s plan would significantly increase military cooperation between the United States, Israel, and Arab allies in the region at a time when the Jewish state is facing unprecedented criticism from far-left Democrats in Congress.
Republicans like Ernst, on the other hand, say they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Jewish state, even as the Biden administration works to undermine the conservative Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Speaking to the Free Beacon following a keynote speech Tuesday morning at the Christians United for Israel annual Washington, D.C., gathering, Ernst said she is concerned by an uptick in anti-Israel activism among House Democrats.
At least four members of the Democratic Party’s progressive "Squad" announced this week they would boycott a congressional speech by Israel’s president. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and fellow progressive Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) also faced widespread condemnation over the weekend for maligning Israel, which Jayapal claimed is a "racist state."
"Israel’s under attack from so many different angles," Ernst said. "It’s under attack from Iran, from violent extremist organizations backed by Iran, and now even from members of Congress they are under attack."
Her legislative efforts are meant to bolster Israel’s security at an uncertain time and also send the message that most in Congress still have the Jewish state’s back.
Biden is "really appeasing Iran, and then we see members of Congress in his own party who feel they can also target Israel," Ernst said. "I think it’s unacceptable to do this."
The lawmaker, who sits on the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, also raised concerns about U.S.-Iran envoy Rob Malley, who recently had his security clearance revoked amid an investigation into his alleged mishandling of classified information.
"We have to know what was going on. What’s the deal here? What was released? What information may have gotten into the wrong hands?" Ernst said, joining a chorus of Republican lawmakers who are demanding answers from the Biden administration. "It’s very troubling, especially when we’re talking about an actor like Iran."
Before being removed from his post and put on unpaid leave, Malley was engaged in secret negotiations with Iran aimed at resurrecting the 2015 nuclear accord. Congress, Ernst said, is already examining several routes to block a potential deal.
"Congress really needs to step in," she said, "and try to thwart these behind closed doors, under the radar type meetings and any agreement President Biden reaches with Iran."