Tags: Iran | Middle East | Ed Royce | Iran | Empowered | US | Lacks

Rep. Ed Royce: Iran Feels 'Empowered' Because US Lacks Leadership

(MSNBC/"Morning Joe")

By    |   Tuesday, 05 January 2016 10:16 AM

The United States is leading from behind in the Middle East, Rep. Ed Royce said Tuesday, and as a result, Iran feels that "they have been empowered."

"The entire instability there, I think is a problem, as Sunnis and Shia begin to separate into separate blocs, and it make it much more difficult, and this is part of the fallacy in leading from behind," said the California Republican, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program about the situations in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

"We see a lack of leadership . . . They perceive we tilted towards Iran and this created problems in terms of our credibility," said Royce.

On Tuesday, reports Reuters, airstrikes led by Saudi forces targeted Iranian-allied Houthi forces in Yemen intensified, after Saudi Arabia Saturday announced the end of a truce that had been reducing fighting.

Also on Saturday, the Saudis executed a Shi'ite cleric, leading to riots in Iran, including protesters setting the Saudi embassy on fire in Tehran, leading the Kingdom to sever ties with Iran.

According to Reuters, 6,000 people have been killed since the Saudi coalition joined in the conflict in March in an effort to push Iran out of Yemen.

Royce, meanwhile, said his first concern is in Syria, where the consequences could face trouble while trying to broker an agreement, while Iran "feels they have been empowered."

"If you see the actions of Iran recently, whether it's taking additional U.S. hostages or whether it's violating the U.N. sanctions, shooting off these ballistic missiles. Remember Jordan and other U.S. allies of the region don't see a reaction from this administration," said Royce.

The Obama administration, he continued, was about to take action, but "as soon as Iran pushed back in terms of enforcement on the sanctions, all of that evaporated," said Royce. "We need a policy of backbone, not backing down."

And as a consequence, there is a new perception that it "will make it much harder to get people to the table, because instead, what you see is a reaction to them lashing out against Iran's growing power in the region."

The United States had its chance to change the Middle East in 2009, "when the people in Iran went to the streets, and the administration made the decision at that point not to support the people in the streets in Iran. Instead they've gone forward to engage the Ayatollah. That was a blunder."

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The United States is leading from behind in the Middle East, Rep. Ed Royce said Tuesday, and as a result, Iran feels that "they have been empowered."
Ed Royce, Iran, Empowered, US, Lacks, Leadership, Saudi Arabia
Tuesday, 05 January 2016 10:16 AM
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