WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) — Rep. Ted Poe (R, Texas) is a co-sponsor of important legislation now before the US Congress: “The Iranian Proxies Terrorist Sanctions Act,” which he introduced, along with Rep. Brad Sherman (D, California), in the House of Representatives earlier this year.
The bill calls for imposing sanctions on two Iraqi militias backed by Iran: Asa’ib Ahl al Haq and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba.
Similar legislation was introduced last week in the Senate, where Senators Ted Cruz (R, Texas), Marco Rubio (R, Florida), and David Perdue (R, Georgia) are the co-sponsors.
The Senate version of the bill emerged after it was reported in late August that Iran had provided missiles to the two militias, and then, on September 8, Iranian missiles struck the headquarters of two Iranian Kurdish parties in the town of Koya in the Kurdistan Region, killing 15 people.
The head of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Qais al-Khazali, ran in Iraq’s May 12 elections on the Fatih (Conquest) list, dominated by the leaders of the Iranian-backed Shia militias that have emerged as political powers in Iraq, as a result of the country’s three-year battle against the Islamic State—an echo of the rise of Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, in the course of Lebanon’s civil war.
Khazali won 15 seats in the new parliament, a sharp contrast to his earlier position, when he spent three years in prison during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), for his involvement in an Iranian-backed campaign that targeted and killed US troops.
Last week, Rep. Poe told Kurdistan 24 that in addition to his vehement opposition to Iran, “I am a strong supporter of the Kurds.”
“The Kurds and the Texans have a lot in common,” he continued. “We are independent. We are tough, and we are great fighters for freedom.”
Poe explained that “a broad strategy” was required to confront the Iranians. “But the main thing,” he said, is “we call them out—right now—about what they are doing.”
“Congress needs to weigh in on this and encourage the administration to take appropriate actions,” he stated.
Poe is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kurdistan 24 also spoke with two other members of that committee.
Rep. Scott Perry (R, Pennsylvania) served in Iraq during OIF. The US “needs to continue the pressure on the Iranian Islamist regime,” Perry said.
“We cannot allow them to continue to build their land bridge across Iraq.” We need to “kick them out of Iraq and coalesce the international community to isolate the regime in Iran, so they quit oppressing and killing their own people,” Perry affirmed.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R, Texas) heads the Committee on Homeland Security in addition his position on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“I think the President, by getting out of the [Iranian nuclear deal],” made a “good move,” McCaul said.
McCaul called for designating the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, explaining that the IRGC was expanding into Iraq, as well as Syria, and manufacturing rockets in Lebanon to be used by Hezbollah.
The three representatives reflect strong Congressional strong opposition to the Iranian regime, and they are pressing the Trump administration to do even more against Iran’s expansionism, including in Iraq.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Rahim Rashidi conducted the interviews)