House Intelligence Committee Republican Chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio, and ranking Democrat Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., revealed that Israel, Jordan and Egypt are pushing for a greater U.S. presence in the Middle East amid growing concerns of a nuclear Iran and an increased Chinese footprint.
‘[Israel, Jordan and Eqypt] were all very much encouraging the United States on a policy basis to have a stronger role, thinking that there are real opportunities to increase the security situation here, but at the same time, painting a picture that there are serious threats in the area and the United States should be playing a role,’ Turner said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ Sunday.
Turner and Himes both recently met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, shortly after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s visit to Israel in May. Himes said Netanyahu is ‘very focused on Iran,’ saying ‘it was intolerable for him to imagine an Iran with a nuclear weapon.’
‘The reality is that the JCPOA, whatever you thought of the deal, when it was in effect, the Iranians were not making, enriching more uranium. Now they are,’ Himes said. ‘So the problem, of course, is that with Iran so brutally abusing its own people, I think the prospect for negotiation is arguably further away than ever before.’
Turner did say Netanyahu believes Iran can be deterred if the country thinks military action will be taken against them, with a chilling effect of such prospects then imposed on Iran and stalling their program as a result.
Likewise, a deal reportedly brokered by China between Iran and Saudi Arabia has other nations on edge, with the looming threat of China’s increased influence in the region.
‘Well, all three countries that we were in – Jordan, Israel and Egypt – indicated their own steps to diminish China’s footprint or their ability to make inroads in their country, specifically citing diminishing their technology, access to either data or to their telecommunication systems,’ Turner said.
‘They did all cite China’s increased influence in the area as a need for the United States to step up its influence. So everyone is watching this very closely and seeing this as an opportunity for the United States to not only play a greater role for security, but also a greater role in keeping China at bay,’ he added.
Himes chimed in, saying all three countries expressed the significance of their relations with the U.S., calling the alliance ‘indispensable’ and making clear they would much rather work with the U.S. than with China or Russia.