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 arms embargo on Iran (part of US-led UN 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.
— Electronic Intifada (@intifada) May 5, 2020
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.
“Omar has signed on to a letter whose goal is to preserve and protect American empire and shore up its reactionary and undemocratic client states in the region,” renowned writer and blogger, Ali Abunimah wrote in the Electronic Intifada.
“Omar’s signature is all the more baffling, given her forceful criticisms of US sanctions policy against various countries.” he added.
Equally interesting is that Omar chose to part ways with other progressive members of Congress. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, who reportedly did not sign the letter.
1/+@IlhanMN signs onto AIPAC letter siding with Trump on Iran
Ilhan Omar signed an AIPAC-backed letter bolstering the Trump administration’s efforts to extend the @UN arms embargo on Iran, which expires in October as the first sunset provision under the nuclear deal. @snarwani pic.twitter.com/BdvVFnIGKk
— Harun Elbinawi (@ELBINAWI) May 5, 2020
The AIPAC 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,” and to bolster “the Donald Trump administration’s efforts to extend the United Nations arms embargo on Iran.”
The first to reveal Omar’s decision was Al-Monitor on May 4, a report that immediately reverberated throughout Israeli media.
— @palestinechron (@PalestineChron) August 4, 2019
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.
— @palestinechron (@PalestineChron) December 7, 2019
“But to line up behind one of the most destructive foreign policy agents in American history, AIPAC, and to further push down a country that is already on its knees because of prolonged US sanctions, compounded with the horrific death toll of the coronavirus pandemic, is extremely disappointing, to say the least.”
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.
— Stephen Montemayor (@smontemayor) January 6, 2020
“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.
"THESE CHAINS WILL BE BROKEN" by Dr. Ramzy Baroud , the story of Palestine written by its heroes & heroines
— Marwa (@MarwaLahouimel) January 2, 2020
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.
(The title of this article has been slightly edited for clarity)
(The Palestine Chronicle)