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Now We're Talking

Now We're Talking

Sunday, 12 June, 2022 - 06:45
Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

As much as we have justly criticized the United States, we are now faced with a new step, which if taken, would allow us to say that it has returned to thinking according to its strength and from a strategic position, away from the delusions of the left.


The step we are talking about is the significant move by Democrat and Republican lawmakers to introduce legislation, the "Deterring Enemy Forces and Enabling National Defense Act" (DEFEND Act), to integrate regional countries' air defense systems to thwart Iran's threats.


The Act would authorize the US Defense Department to cooperate with Iraq, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other regional allies and the entire Gulf Cooperation Council, and requires the Pentagon to submit a strategy for integrated air and missile defense system within six months.


The bill stated that they must "identify an architecture and develop an acquisition approach for certain countries in the Middle East to implement an integrated air and missile defense capability to protect the people, infrastructure, and territory of such countries from cruise and ballistic missiles, manned and unmanned aerial systems, and rocket attacks from Iran."


The bill requires the Pentagon to submit a detailed report to Congress within 180 days of its approval, containing a strategy centered on the following three points: First, an assessment of the threat of ballistic and cruise missiles, manned and unmanned aerial systems, and rocket attacks by Iran and its affiliated groups to the countries mentioned above.


Second, a description of the efforts to coordinate indicators and warnings from such attacks with the specified countries, with a description of the current systems to defend against attacks.


Third, an explanation of the impact of integrated air and missile defense architecture would improve the collective security in the region.


Such a bill means that the US has started to think strategically. Most importantly, the bill comes from Congress, through both Democrats and Republicans, not the American administration, meaning the bill, if ratified, will become strategically binding and not a tactical move by the administration. Furthermore, the upcoming Midterm elections will not impact this strategic decision.


It is significant because the allies in the region would have received a commitment long yearned for by Iran in the nuclear deal: For any agreement with Washington to be approved and recognized by Congress. Iran has not and will not get its wish.


The allies themselves find themselves faced with a strategic step with the US. Its primary significance is that there is now movement to deter Iran through a bipartisan bill. The Republicans are expected to control Congress after the next elections, another significant point.


We say "deter" because Iran has been excessively and undeservedly spoiled by the current American administration in spite of several bipartisan voices stressing the need for a firmer and clearer position with Iran that has not ceased, for even a moment, its hostile behavior in the region.


If the bill is approved, then we can recall British Prime Minister Winston Churchill when he said: "You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing after they have tried everything else.”


Of course, among the Americans' flaws is that they do not approve a fully complete political bill, do not think of the next day, as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are very naive in dealing with our region.


The DEFEND Act, however, allows us to say: "Now we're talking. We are now moving forward according to strategy, not delusions."


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