Former GOP representative and intelligence expert Pete Hoekstra blasted Obama administration policies Tuesday for emboldening Iran, and described the massive, international terror plot to assassinate a Saudi Arabian ambassador and blow up at least one embassy an “act of war.”
Citing an unnamed official, ABC News reported that the plot was far more extensive than originally reported, targeting the Saudi Arabian embassy in the Nation’s Capital, the Israeli Embassy in Washington, the Saudi Arabian embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires as well.
Hoekstra predicted that Iran’s fingerprints on a plot to assassinate Adel A. Al-Jubeir, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, will “heighten the tensions throughout the Middle East… These are acts of war, and they need to be viewed and treated as such.”
Tensions have escalated sharply in recent months between Saudi Arabia, a Sunni monarchy, and the Iranian Shiite theocracy that has been pursuing the development of nuclear weapons in the tinderbox of the Middle East.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that Saudi officials in Riyadh feel they must take tough diplomatic actions against Iran. “If we keep our diplomatic ties with the Iranians, they will think we are weak and they will keep trying to attack us,” one Saudi official told the Times.
Hoekstra, the former ranking members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence who is running to represent Michigan in the U.S. Senate, said the brazen plot by Iranian operatives comes as no surprise.
“This is a rogue nation,” he told Newsmax in an exclusive interview Tuesday afternoon. “They are developing nuclear weapons. They are an outlaw state. And for them to undertake, participate, or lead this type of effort shouldn’t be surprising at all.
“What should be surprising is the Obama administration’s reaction to this regime in Iran since they’ve been in office,” he added. “Remember, when there was the Green Revolution developing in Iran, it was the Obama administration that tamped it down and refused to give it any support. Their refusal to recognize the threat from Iran -- that’s the problem here.”
According to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the two suspects arrested in connection with the bombing plot have been linked to Iran’s Quds Force, an element within Iran’s elite Islamic Revolution Guards Corps that is known for carrying out operations beyond Iran’s borders.
Among Hoekstra’s other observations:
- He said members of the elite Quds force only would undertake an operation overseas after receiving a green light from Iranian leaders. “This is something that you would expect that people within the highest levels of the Iranian government would have been briefed on and would have sanctioned,” he said.
- The administration’s outreach to Iran, he said, “has been a flawed policy that strengthened the hand of Iran, it doesn’t weaken it.”
- He blamed the administration for not holding Iran accountable for its continued development of nuclear weapons. “It seems like our friends we hold accountable,” he said. “[But] for people who have threatened us, we have never held them accountable.”
- Hoekstra said Iran’s leaders “believe that they have more latitude under the Obama administration than what they would have had under the Bush administration.”
- Saying the Obama administration at one point tried to portray Syrian leader Bashir Assad as “the face of reform in Syria,” Hoekstra said the president’s policies in the Middle East are exacerbating the risks to Americans at home and abroad.
“The outcome of this administration has been I think an emboldened Iran, both in the Middle East and throughout the world,” the Michigan Republican told Newsmax. “It will have, I think, created an environment that is more hospitable to radical jihadists.
“Take a look at what is happening through Northern Africa, with what is happening in Yemen, with what is happening specifically in Egypt, and Libya, and Tunisia. This has not been progress. The Arab Spring that this administration early on was trumpeting, we are seeing it’s falling apart. The Sinai peninsula is on the verge of become a breeding ground for radical jihadists and a home for al Qaida.”
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the interdiction of the plot “is a significant achievement by our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and the president is enormously grateful for their exceptional work in this instance and countless others.”
But Hoekstra charged America is “much less safe, and at much greater risk, as is the Middle East, due to the actions that this administration has either taken, or not taken, over the last three years.”
Holder said Tuesday that Iran would be held accountable. Fox News asked former CIA covert operations officer Mike Baker what the U.S. response might entail.
His reply: “Probably a strongly worded letter, given the activities of the current administration.”
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