WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left open the likelihood on Wednesday of coming into a battle with Iran with out first searching for express 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 Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a international terrorist group, and have been prone to gasoline issues of American army motion in opposition to Iran.
Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, pushed Mr. Pompeo to commit that the Trump administration wouldn’t assault Iran below a battle authorization permitting the usage of army drive in opposition to Al Qaeda and different extremist teams liable for the terrorist assaults of Sept. 11, 2001.
Mr. Pompeo demurred, saying he would “favor to only go away 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 battle with Iran,” Mr. Paul mentioned within the alternate throughout a listening to of the Senate International Relations Committee.
Mr. Pompeo pivoted, noting ties between Iran and Al Qaeda.
“There isn’t any doubt there’s a connection,” he mentioned. “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 have been murky, however no less than some have 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-about a rising Qaeda chief.
It’s not clear how the federal government may plausibly contemplate Iran as a battle ally of Al Qaeda and concerned within the Sept. 11 assaults. Al Qaeda and its followers are Sunni extremists who contemplate Shiite Muslims, 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 in opposition to Iran’s revolutionary guards was the primary by the USA in opposition to an official entity out of the country’s authorities.
It additionally appeared to pique Mr. Paul’s questioning about whether or not the USA was outlining a basis for battle. Mr. Pompeo mentioned it was “not a part of the decision-making course of,” and referred to as the designation in opposition to the Iranian army unit a “recognition of actuality.”
Moreover, Mr. Pompeo was requested to affirm help for a two-state answer within the Israeli-Palestinian battle, as have earlier Republican and Democratic administrations. He declined to reply when requested to explain what the USA would do if the Israeli authorities tried to annex the West Financial institution, which is broadly seen as the muse for a Palestinian state.
“The previous set of concepts aren’t value retreading,” he mentioned in an analogous remark to the identical query he was requested 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 answer was an “previous concept,” Mr. Pompeo replied: “I might argue that thousands and thousands of man hours have been spent to attempt to construct out a two-state answer. It hasn’t labored to this point — it could work this afternoon.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who appeared to win a fifth time period in Tuesday’s nationwide elections, 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 prone to be unveiled quickly by Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and Center East adviser, though it’s not anticipated to insist on a two-state answer or on ceding sovereignty to the Palestinians.
Mr. Pompeo mentioned the peace framework would comprise “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 essential of President Trump’s resolution in December 2017 to maneuver the American Embassy to Jerusalem, a contested metropolis.
Senators additionally pressed Mr. Pompeo on North Korea, one other sticky diplomatic effort that he’s main.
He was requested if financial sanctions ought to stay in opposition to North Korea till the nation absolutely eliminates its nuclear weapons arsenal, because the administration has demanded. “I need to go away a bit of area there,” Mr. Pompeo replied.