December 15, 2023

Senator Ricketts’ Weekly Column: Answering Iranian Aggression

December 15, 2023

On October 7th, Hamas launched a massive terror attack against Israel. They murdered at least 33 Americans and 1,200 Israelis. The horrific, ruthless, and barbaric attack couldn’t have happened without the assistance of Iran. Iran gave weapons, training, and funding to Hamas. According to The Wall Street Journal, Iranian officials helped plan the attack itself and “gave the green light” in a meeting in Beirut, Lebanon.

Iran’s aggression isn’t only targeted at Israel. Since the October 7th terror attack on Israel, Iran has also attacked the U.S. through its proxies at least 90 times. These increasingly frequent attacks demand a strong response. President Biden must change his weak appeasement-first policies or American lives will remain at risk. Iran needs to know it can’t antagonize us without consequences.

Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. It has a network of terrorist groups it supports, like Hamas. This network includes Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and several other groups in Iraq and Syria. The Houthis have escalated their attacks on Israeli and American-owned vessels in the Red Sea. Their goal is to disrupt global shipping lanes. Despite this aggression and dozens of Americans injured, we’ve seen a very limited retaliatory response. President Biden has authorized only a few airstrikes. Those have mainly targeted empty buildings, ammunition bunkers, and low-level militia fighters.

This appeasement-first foreign policy from the Biden administration is endangering Americans around the world. In his first weeks in office, Biden removed the Houthis from the list of terrorist organizations. He announced hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). UNRWA has been described as “a branch of Hamas.” This weakness only invites more aggression from adversaries like Iran.

If that’s not bad enough, the Biden administration issued a sanctions waiver providing Iran access to approximately $10 billion. It has also refused to permanently freeze another $6 billion in cash. On top of that, President Biden had already allowed Iran to profit an estimated $80 billion from oil sales. All of this was done in the naïve hope that Iran would play nice. It was reckless, foolish, and it allows Iran to fund terrorism.

America should not appease the demands of terrorists. America should destroy terrorists. Iran needs to know that we will not stand idle while they enable and encourage their proxies to attack American personnel or our allies. That’s why I support the Standing Against Houthi Aggression Act to force the president to re-designate the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. I also support legislation to block Iran’s access to the billions of dollars the Biden administration released earlier this year. I’ve backed the Revoke Iranian Funding Act to direct the Treasury Secretary to pursue increased sanctions against Iranian assets.

I also introduced the Stop Support for Hamas Act to make sure no U.S. taxpayer funding enables Iran-proxy Hamas after their attack on Israel. The bill would end U.S. contributions to UNRWA. It freezes Economic Support Funds (ESF) to Gaza and the West Bank until Israel has dismantled Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure. My bill also looks forward so that once Hamas is defeated, we do everything possible to prevent its revival. The bill would prevent any assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until the President can certify that no PA ministry or agency employs Hamas members. It also strengthens provisions to prevent any future ESF that directly or indirectly benefits the PA until it ends its “pay for slay” program. 

Iran is a ruthless regime that seeks to wipe America and Israel off the map. America must make Iran pay for its terror. President Biden needs to lead and hit Iran where it hurts. President Trump did this when he clawed back the Obama administration’s Iran deal and ordered drone strikes against Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. We must not appease Hamas terrorists and we must not appease Iran.

My team and I are here to serve you. Contact us anytime by phone at 202-224-4224 or on my website at www.ricketts.senate.gov/contact.