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US Republicans seek sanctions on Iraqi militias with Iran ties

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Republican U.S. senators plan to introduce legislation on Wednesday seeking to counteract what they see as Iran’s increasing influence in Iraq, amid concern about attacks in Iraq by groups U.S. officials consider Iranian proxies, a Senate aide said on Wednesday.

Among other things, the bill, whose text was seen by Reuters, would impose terrorism-related sanctions on Iranian-controlled militias and require the U.S. Secretary of State to publish and maintain a list of armed groups receiving assistance from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC.

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Sponsors of the “Iranian Proxies Terrorist Sanctions Act” include Senators David Perdue, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. A similar bill, backed by Republican Representative Ted Poe, has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

There was no immediate word on when the legislation might be considered by congressional committees, normally the first steps toward becoming law.

Three mortar shells landed inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone just after midnight local time on Friday, the first such attack in several years in the area, which houses parliament, government buildings and many foreign embassies.

On Tuesday, the United States warned Iran that it would “respond swiftly and decisively” to any attacks by its allies in Iraq that resulted in injury to Americans or damage to U.S. facilities.

Reuters reported last month that Iran had given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite Muslim proxy groups in Iraq and was developing the capacity to build more there, a development likely to exacerbate tensions between Tehran and Washington, already heightened by President Donald Trump.

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In May, Trump withdrew the United States from a 2015 international nuclear accord with Iran and ordered the reimposition of U.S. sanctions suspended under the deal aimed at stalling Tehran’s nuclear capabilities.

Iran’s Sunni Muslim Gulf neighbors and its arch-enemy Israel have expressed concerns about Tehran’s regional activities as a threat to their security.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Grant McCool

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2020 Election

‘Scared’ Republicans ask House minority leader to lay out an agenda since Trump can’t

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House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has handed out talking points describing the GOP agenda for the upcoming election, since President Donald Trump has been unwilling to chart a course himself.

Some lawmakers "were scared" when Trump was unable to detail his second-term strategy when asked in a recent interview, so several Republicans asked McCarthy to produce an agenda for their own re-election campaigns, reported Axios.

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CNN

‘I don’t even know where to start’: CNN analyst tears into Trump’s plan to give re-nomination speech at White House

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On CNN Wednesday, CNN analyst Dana Bash slammed President Donald Trump's new plan to give the GOP re-nomination speech at the White House.

"I mean, I don't even know where to start," said Bash. "There is a law called the Hatch Act, where it says that you're not supposed to politic from government grounds. The president is exempt from that, so it may be legal grounds for him to stand on, relatively firmly, to do this at the White House. There are questions about the aides that are working for him to do it. But let's just talk about whether it's appropriate."

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Trump’s claims about mail voting were always incoherent — and now they’re falling apart

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I don't know about you, but when I saw Donald Trump do an abrupt pivot on his crusade to depict mail-in voting as a form of voter fraud on Tuesday, I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

That certainly wasn't because I believe he's seen the light and has realized that mail-in voting is perfectly safe, or that he realizes it's imperative at a time when in-person voting may expose people to the deadly coronavirus. No, it was because he singled out Florida as the one state he believes really knows how to handle elections. Anyone who was around 20 years ago to observe the 2000 election will understand why I felt that awful sense of dread.

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