Several members of US Congress on Sunday slammed President Joe Biden for his failure to directly confront Iran even after its proxies killed three American soldiers in Jordan.
President Biden authorized airstrikes on dozens of targets in Syria and Iraq last Friday, five days after a drone attack on US base Tower 22 in Jordan by Iran-allied Kataeb Hezbollah. US officials announced that the strikes were the first in a series of retaliatory attacks against Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, aiming at degenerating their capacity to attack US troops and interests.
Not long after the airstrikes, however, IRGC announced that it had no personnel or interests in the targeted locations, raising suspicions that the delay in US military response had been a leeway for the Iranians to take out their forces.
“They keep saying that they want to retaliate, but then they say it’s about deterrence, then they say it’s about diminishing capabilities,” House Intelligence Chair Mike Turner said in an interview with CBS. “Those are all different goals and objectives. And they’re not doing any of those.”
“The administration has no policy with respect to Iran,” he added, “ how to diminish their capability, diminish these attacks and diminish their nefarious activities in the Middle East.”
Turner was by no means alone. All through the weekend, US Senators and Representatives appeared on major TV networks to discuss the crisis in the Middle East. And many were critical of the Biden administration and its responses to the loss of American lives.
“What we need to be doing right now is turning up the heat on Iran,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said on NBC, “we need to decimate Iran’s central bank…, we need to put maximum pressure on their oil exports. There’s a lot that we could do to Iran instead of this appeasement strategy.”
“We need to make clear to Iran that nothing is off the table,” Johnson said.
Reports coming from Iran seem to suggest that the regime has gotten over the initial fear of ‘American wrath’, presuming that there would be no attacks on targets inside Iran. Deputy commander of the IRGC, Ali Fadavi, said on Sunday that “not even one bullet was fired at Iran,” calling US efforts to deter Iran a failure. The country’s military has even taken the opportunity to threaten the US.
Iran’s Army on Sunday issued a rare warning over its cargo ships Behshad and Saviz, which are thought to be helping the Houthis target commercial vessels in the Red Sea.
“Those engaging in terrorist activities against Behshad or similar vessels jeopardize international maritime routes, security and assume global responsibility for potential future international risks,” the video statement said.
Both Iran and the US say they’re not interested in going to war. But Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan was not willing Sunday to exclude the option of an attack inside Iran. “I’m not going to get into what’s on the table and off the table, when it comes to the American response,” he said when asked by an NBC presenter about targets inside Iran.
Some experts say that with the large-scale attack on Iran-affiliated targets in Iraq and Syria, the Biden administration has taken the penultimate step and would have no choice but to hit the interests of the Iranian regime, if further attacks are launched against American troops.
If markets in Iran are any measure to go by, the general feeling in the country is that that is not going to happen. The currency (rial) regained much of what it had lost against the US dollar in anticipation of the US offensive last week. Senior regime officials also seem to have regained their confidence, as seen in the propaganda video by Iran’s Army.