WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left open the likelihood on Wednesday of coming into a battle with Iran with out first in search of specific congressional approval, telling senators “there is no such thing as a doubt there’s a connection” between Al Qaeda and Iran.
His feedback got here two days after the Trump administration designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a overseas terrorist group, and had been more likely to gasoline issues of American navy motion in opposition to the nation.
Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, pushed Mr. Pompeo to commit that the Trump administration wouldn’t assault Iran below a warfare authorization permitting using navy drive in opposition to Al Qaeda and different extremist teams accountable for the terrorist assaults of Sept. 11, 2001.
Mr. Pompeo demurred, saying he would “choose to simply depart that to attorneys.”
Mr. Paul, a libertarian who promotes isolationist insurance policies, mentioned he was troubled by Mr. Pompeo’s response. “I can inform you explicitly, you haven’t been given energy or authority by Congress to have warfare with Iran,” he mentioned within the alternate at a listening to of the Senate Overseas Relations Committee.
Mr. Pompeo pivoted, noting ties between Iran and Al Qaeda: “There isn’t a doubt there’s a connection. Interval. Full cease.”
After the Sept. 11 assaults, and as American forces ready to bomb Afghanistan, greater than a dozen senior Qaeda members fled to Iran. The circumstances of their residing circumstances had been murky, however a minimum of some had been detained and later traded in a prisoner swap with a Qaeda department in Yemen. Hamza bin Laden, a son of Osama bin Laden, was believed to be amongst these residing in Iran after the 2001 assaults; he’s now thought of a rising Qaeda chief.
Over a number of administrations, American officers have interpreted and stretched the 2001 authorization to be used of drive in opposition to the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 terrorist assaults as granting authorized permission to wage an armed battle in opposition to not simply Al Qaeda and the Taliban, but in addition different Sunni Islamist teams with hyperlinks to Al Qaeda within the Center East and North Africa.
It’s not clear how the Trump administration may plausibly say Iran is an ally of Al Qaeda and took part within the Sept. 11 assaults. Amongst different issues, Al Qaeda and its associates are Sunni extremists who take into account adherents of the Shiite department of Islam, like Iran’s authorities, to be heretics.
Mr. Pompeo has been a ringleader within the Trump administration’s stress marketing campaign in opposition to Iran. The terrorist designation that he introduced on Monday was the primary by america in opposition to an official entity abroad’s authorities.
It additionally appeared to pique Mr. Paul’s questioning about whether or not america was outlining a basis for warfare. Mr. Pompeo referred to as the designation in opposition to the Iranian navy unit a “recognition of actuality.”
Moreover, Mr. Pompeo was requested to affirm help for a two-state resolution within the Israeli-Palestinian battle, as have earlier Republican and Democratic administrations. He declined to reply when requested to explain what america would do if the Israeli authorities tried to annex the West Financial institution, broadly seen as the inspiration for a Palestinian state.
“The previous set of concepts aren’t value retreading,” he mentioned in the same remark to the identical query at a Senate listening to on Tuesday. “They’ve merely not succeeded.”
Pressed by Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, on whether or not a two-state resolution was an “previous thought,” Mr. Pompeo replied: “I’d argue that thousands and thousands of man hours have been spent to attempt to construct out a two-state resolution. It hasn’t labored thus far; it might work this afternoon.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who appeared to win a fifth time period Tuesday, mentioned final weekend that he would apply sovereignty to some or the entire West Financial institution if re-elected. A framework for peace negotiations is more likely to be unveiled quickly by Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and Center East adviser, though it isn’t anticipated to insist on a two-state resolution or on ceding sovereignty to the Palestinians.
Mr. Pompeo mentioned the peace framework would include “issues that neither of them like,” referring to Israeli and Palestinian leaders, “however issues that the Gulf States suppose make sense.”
Mr. Kushner has sought approval for his plan from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, however the kingdom has been vital of Mr. Trump’s resolution in 2017 to maneuver the American Embassy to Jerusalem.