Lankford, Ernst Lead Push to Unite Middle East Partners Against Iranian Aggression
WASHINGTON, DC – The day after a drone attack on the US consulate in Iraq, likely committed by Iranian proxy forces, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) along with fellow co-chairs of the Senate Abraham Accords Caucus, Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) to introduce the Deterring Enemy Forces and Enabling National Defense (DEFEND) Act to develop a strategic approach among countries included in the Abraham Accords, aimed at combatting Iranian aggression in the Middle East.
“We cannot hope for peace; we must work to create peace. That is why the Abraham Accords are so essential to the future of the region,” said Lankford. “My colleagues and I also want the US Department of Defense to prepare a strategic plan to strengthen integrated air and missile defense capabilities to protect people and infrastructure from the ongoing threats from Iran. We can and must be smart about the realities existing in the region from Iran, but we must also continue to integrate people and commerce in the region toward a goal of lasting peace.”
“America’s cooperation with our allies and partners in the Middle East should evolve as violent extremists, like Iran, change their tactics and onboard new capabilities capable of catastrophic damage against civilian targets, but the ability to do so is reliant on a commitment to collective security,” said Ernst. “This bipartisan, bicameral effort will lay the ground work for security collaboration with our allies and partners in the region and help them to step up and take on the threat posed by Iran and its violent extremist proxies.”
“As U.S. forces and our partners in the Middle East face increasingly sophisticated air and missile threats from Iran and its terrorist proxies, we must act in a coordinated way to defend against shared threats,” said Rosen. “Our bipartisan, bicameral legislation will support the Department of Defense’s efforts to integrate the defense capabilities of our Middle Eastern allies and partners, including Israel, and leverage their unique capabilities to develop an integrated air and missile defense architecture.”
“As missile threats against our partners in the Middle East increase, this bipartisan legislation is critical to ensuring the safety and security of the region,” said Booker. “Under the leadership and coordination of the Department of Defense, this bill will help develop an integrated air and missile defense system that protects civilians and infrastructure from rocket attacks and strengthens the defense capabilities of our Middle Eastern allies. By strengthening and encouraging cooperation between signatories of the Abraham Accords and other regional partners, this bill will also help foster a more peaceful and stable region.”
The DEFEND Act would require the Department of Defense to prepare a strategy to work in conjunction with Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other allies and partners in the Middle East to establish a defense architecture and acquisitions approach that would employ a combination of air and missile defense capabilities to protect the region from attacks by Iran and Iran-backed extremist groups. Companion legislation will be introduced in the House by Abraham Accords Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) as well as House Armed Services Committee members Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA).
The bill is endorsed by: ADL, AIPAC, AJC, American Jewish Congress, CUFI Action, FDD Action, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, JFNA, JINSA, USIEA, and Senior Middle East scholars who support this bill at the Atlantic Council.