WASHINGTON – Michigan U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI 8), a former CIA analyst and Shia militia expert who served three tours in Iraq focusing on Iranian-backed militias, is reacting to the US-led killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
“As a former Shia militia analyst who served multiple tours in Iraq and worked at the White House under both Presidents Bush and Obama, and later at the Pentagon, I participated in countless conversations on how to respond to Qassem Soleimani’s violent campaigns across the region,” Slotkin said. “If you worked on the Middle East over the past 20 years, you dealt with the growing organization and sophistication of Soleimani’s covert and overt military activities, which have contributed to significant destabilization across the region. I watched friends and colleagues get hurt or killed by Iranian rockets, mortars and explosive devices that were provided to Iraqi proxies and used against U.S. forces under Soleimani’s guidance. We watched as his power increased and he brought strength and capability to groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, and to smaller cells around the Middle East and the world, with devastating consequences. We watched what can only be described as a cool war, taking place quietly under the surface of the public eye.”
“What always kept both Democratic and Republican presidents from targeting Soleimani himself was the simple question: Was the strike worth the likely retaliation, and the potential to pull us into protracted conflict? The two administrations I worked for both determined that the ultimate ends didn’t justify the means. The Trump Administration has made a different calculation,” Slotkin added. “The Iranian government has vowed to retaliate and avenge Soleimani’s death, and could do so in any number of ways: against our diplomats and service members or high-ranking military officers, against our allies and partners in the region, or through targeted attacks in the Western world. It is critical that the Administration has thought out the moves and counter-moves this attack will precipitate, and is prepared to protect our diplomats, service members, and citizens serving overseas.”
“This Administration, like all others, has the right to act in self-defense,” Slotkin added. “But the Administration must come to Congress immediately and consult. If military engagement is going to be protracted -- which any informed assessment would consider -- the Administration must request an Authorization for the Use of Military Force. If the Administration needs additional resources, it will need to come back to Congress to request support. Congress also has a deep interest in the future of our relationship with Iraq, given our investment of blood and treasure there to rid the region of ISIS. Congress needs to understand the Administration’s plan as soon as possible.”