After weeks of rocket and drone attacks on US forces in Syria and Iraq, Iran has once again denied involvement in such attacks.
Iran’s ambassador to the UN claimed Tuesday that his country has “never had a hand in actions or attacks against US military forces in Syria or elsewhere.”
American troops in the region have been targeted at least 73 times since Israel began its onslaught on Gaza in response to the Hamas attack of 7 October, which killed 1,200. Iran-backed militant groups in Iraq and Syria have claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Tehran has claimed they are acting independently, angered by the war in Gaza.
However, the Islamic Republic calls these militant groups part of its axis of resistance against the United States and Israel. Almost every armed group that has targeted US forces in recent weeks is backed by or affiliated with the regime in Iran.
And yet Ambassador Iravani flatly denied any Iranian involvement and called such claims “baseless accusations’ – just as an IRGC-affiliated news agency published a video purporting to show images of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower being monitored with drones while passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
USS Eisenhower was deployed to the Middle East last month as concerns grew that the war on Gaza could spread across the region. The deployments – including warships and THAAD and Patriot batteries – were meant to deter hostile forces from attacking US personnel and interests.
But they seem to have failed to do so.
While Iran-backed groups have regularly attacked American bases in Iraq and Syria, injuring dozens, the Houthis in Yemen have seized a container ship and frequently launched missiles, including a ballistic missile last weekend that aimed at a US warship in the Gulf of Aden. The US has issued a warning to commercial shipping in the Indian Ocean.
The Pentagon has maintained throughout that it will do whatever it takes to protect American forces. But many on the Capitol have raised questions about the Biden administration's will to address the threats posed by Iran and its proxies.
“President Biden seems to be going out of his way to avoid targeting Iranians or the resources it holds dear,” Senator Tom Cotton posted on X Tuesday. “This weakness only invites more aggression.”
Republicans in Congress have been trying hard to push the Biden administration towards a more forceful stance in dealing with the regime in Iran. Several pieces of legislation have been introduced to limit the President's freedom of action in making concessions to Tehran or reverse his administration’s policies.
One such initiative in the Senate would designate Houthis as a terrorist organization, citing the group’s weekend missile attacks on a U.S. warship as an alarming escalation.
The legislation is led by Senator Ted Cruz and six other Republicans. It will reapply all sanctions on the Houthis that were lifted in 2021 when the Biden administration took office.
“The Biden administration made a day one politically driven decision to dismantle terrorism sanctions against the Houthis and their leaders,” said Senator Cruz. “That decision was an obvious and catastrophic mistake from the very beginning, and it has only become more obvious and more catastrophic as time has gone on.