WASHINGTON: The Trump envoy to Iran dodged questions as to whether the White House would use Washington’s 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) to go to war with Iran without Congressional approval, but assured lawmakers that the president’s administration does not seek a full-fledged military confrontation with Tehran.
US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told lawmakers Wednesday that any military conflict with Iran would be a “defensive move” on Washington’s side.
“We’re not seeking military action ,” Hook told lawmakers at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Middle East subpanel, according to Politico. “There is no talk of offensive action. It’s a defensive move.”
He added that if it comes to direct military confrontation with Iran, the administration “will do everything that we are required to do with respect to congressional war powers, and we will comply with the law.”
The lawmakers pressed the representative over suspicions that Trump might circumventing Congress and use the AUMF legislation to go to war with Iran.
Under US law, the president must notify Congress within 48 hours before invading other country, and troops can only remain for 60 days without Congressional approval, after which the president has 30 days to withdraw all forces.
However, the AUMF authorizes the president to freely begin military operations against Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, as well as any body found guilty of preparing the 9/11 attacks. Linking Tehran to Al-Qaeda could be used to authorize a military action without congressional approval, according to beltway pundits.
Earlier this year, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that there is “no doubt” that Tehran is connected in some way to Al-Qaeda.
“There is no doubt there is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al-Qaeda. Period. Full stop,” he said before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The factual question with respect to Iran’s connections to al Qaeda is very real. They have hosted al Qaeda. They have permitted al-Qaeda to transit their country.”