A once-fierce critic of US foreign policy in Iran and of the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. took her supporters by surprise when it was revealed that she signed the Israeli lobby’s letter calling on Washington to renew sanctions on Iran.
The Israeli lobby group AIPAC is known for being the main architect of US policies throughout the Middle East, and has been criticized repeatedly for wielding disproportionate influence on US policies in the region.
What is particularly surprising in Omar’s signature of the letter, which was also signed by 391 House members, is that Omar herself has repeatedly locked horns with AIPAC in the past.
Equally interesting is that Omar chose to part ways with other progressive members of Congress. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley reportedly did not sign the letter.
The letter, sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and Republican Mike McCaul, calls on hawkish US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “extend these provisions in order to prevent Iran from buying and selling weapons.”
The first to reveal Omar’s decision was Al-Monitor on May 4, a report that immediately reverberated throughout Israeli media.
Al-Monitor’s Bryant Harris quoted a statement by Omar’s office saying that “Congresswoman Omar has consistently, for a long time, supported arms embargoes against human rights abusers.”
“No explanation by Omar’s office could possibly suffice, or morally justify this shameful decision,” Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud said.
“Omar’s deserved credibility was predicated on her ability to introduce morality and common sense to American politics and to present a new political discourse on foreign policy with courage and articulation,” Baroud added.
Last January, Omar introduced a resolution aimed at blocking US military force against Iran without Congressional authorization. The move was motivated by the US assassination of a top Iranian military leader, Gen. Qassem Soleimani a week earlier.
“Let’s not mince words: the assassination of Qasem Soleimani was an act of war undertaken without Congressional authorization, in violation of the Constitution of the United States of America … We in Congress must exercise our Constitutional duty — and do everything in our power to stop another disastrous war,” Omar said in a statement on January 5.
It is unclear whether Omar’s succumbing to the wishes of AIPAC will further compromise her position on US policies towards Iran and other foreign policy issues.
Source: The Palestine Chronicle