GOP lawmakers slam Biden for hosting Iraqi prime minister amid Mideast conflict

A group of Senate and House Republicans are raising deep concern over President Biden’s upcoming bilateral meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, opposing the meeting over Iranian influence in Iraq.

The Republican lawmakers also criticized that the upcoming meeting, set for April 15, undermines U.S. support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s war against Iranian-backed Hamas.

“Your appeasement of Iran has endangered American national security and weakened our relationship with our allies,” lawmakers wrote in a letter to Biden late last month.

The letter was led by Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fl.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and signed by six GOP colleagues.

Iraq is a central theater of conflict amid the fallout from Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack against Israel. U.S. troops in the country have come under attack from Iranian-backed militias — some of which are integrated into the Iraqi armed forces — and Kurdish forces allied with the U.S. are also targeted for attacks from these groups.

Iranian-backed groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen have also targeted American forces across the region. Three U.S. service members serving in Jordan were killed in an attack that the Pentagon suspects was carried out by Kataib Hizballah, an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq.

“These militias have attacked Americans and Kurdistan over 180 times just since October 7, 2023, resulting in three American servicemember deaths and over 100 casualties,” the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers laid out a set of preconditions for a visit by the Iraqi prime minister, focused on increasing support for the Kurdistan region of Iraq and cutting off funding supplies for Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.

“As a precondition of any visit by Prime Minister al-Sudani, you should require the immediate reopening of the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline so that the Kurdistan Region is able to export oil and U.S. public and private financing are no longer threatened by Tehran’s influence in Baghdad,” the lawmakers wrote.

“You should also require that the Iraqi government resume funding for the Kurdistan Region, the immediate sale of Kurdistan crude already at the Ceyhan port, and a full cycle of oil sales and payments to Kurdistan and its oil investors. Finally, you should not allow further U.S. dollar transfers to Iraq until the Treasury Department certifies that such transfers do not benefit the Iranian regime or its proxies.”

Other signatories to the letter include Sens. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Reps. Jake Ellzey (R-Texas), French Hill (R-Ark.), Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and Mike Waltz (R-Fla.).

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