In a recent and tragic development, the United States Central Command, along with the White House, announced that an attack by Iranian-supported militias using an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) resulted in the deaths of three U.S. service members, with an additional 34 injured. This incident took place at a military base in Jordan, close to the Syrian border.
The gravity of the situation was underscored by President Joe Biden, who confirmed that the assault was orchestrated by Iranian-backed militias active in Iraq and Syria. The attack, which occurred on a Saturday night, represents a significant escalation in hostilities. Notably, this is the first instance of U.S. service members being fatally targeted by these militias since their inception of attacks, which began around the time of the Israel-Hamas War.
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This incident also marks the first deaths of U.S. service members in combat since the 2021 bombing at the Kabul airport, as recorded by the Defense Casualty Analysis System.
President Biden, in a solemn statement, expressed the nation’s deep sorrow: “Today, America’s heart is heavy. Last night, three U.S. service members were killed—and many wounded—during an unmanned aerial drone attack on our forces stationed in northeast Jordan near the Syria border. While we are still gathering the facts of this attack, we know it was carried out by radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq.”
He extended heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, denouncing the attack as entirely unjust. He reaffirmed the unwavering commitment of the United States in the fight against terrorism.
“The three American service members we lost were patriots in the highest sense,” Biden remarked. “And their ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten by our nation. Together, we will keep the sacred obligation we bear to their families. We will strive to be worthy of their honor and valor. We will carry on their commitment to fight terrorism. And have no doubt — we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing.”
CENTCOM, adhering to its policy, stated that the names of the casualties would be withheld for 24 hours following the incident.
The location of the attack, Tower 22, is a smaller outpost in Jordan that supports the Al-Tanf base in southeast Syria. CNN reports that Al-Tanf is encircled by Area 55, a designated buffer zone established to safeguard the base. Area 55 is one of two primary deployment zones for U.S. troops in Syria. The attack’s occurrence in Jordan, as opposed to Syria or Iraq, is particularly noteworthy.
The approach of the Obama administration, with support from the Biden administration, towards Iran, especially regarding the Iran Nuclear Deal (formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) and the financial aspects related to it, has been a topic of significant criticism. These policies were fundamentally flawed and detrimental to both the United States’ interests and regional stability.
The JCPOA, finalized in 2015 under President Obama with then-Vice President Biden’s backing, aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. Conservatives have often condemned this deal on several grounds. Firstly, they argue that it was too lenient, providing Iran with substantial economic relief while not adequately ensuring that Iran’s nuclear ambitions were permanently dismantled. The sunset clauses in the deal, which allow certain restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program to expire after a set time, were seen as particularly problematic, suggesting a temporary fix rather than a long-term solution.
Secondly, the financial aspect of the deal, including the release of over $150 billion in frozen Iranian assets and the delivery of cash payments to Iran, was a major point of contention. Critics in conservative circles saw this as a form of appeasement, effectively funding a regime that has consistently been hostile to U.S. interests and allies in the Middle East, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia. There was a widespread belief that this influx of money would not lead to a more responsible or peaceful Iran but rather empower its aggressive regional policies and support for proxy groups like Hezbollah, The IRGC (Syria), Hamas and, the Houthis in Yemen.
Moreover, conservatives often point to Iran’s continued missile development and its involvement in regional conflicts as evidence that the Obama administration’s approach failed to bring about the promised moderation in Iran’s behavior. The argument follows that the financial benefits received by Iran were used to bolster its military capabilities and to further destabilize the region, rather than improving the economic conditions for the Iranian people or fostering a more conciliatory international stance.
The Obama-Biden administration’s policies towards Iran, particularly the JCPOA and the associated financial dealings, were misguided. They have empowered a hostile regime, failed to permanently halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and compromised the security interests of the United States and its allies in the Middle East. This critique emphasizes a need for a more assertive stance against Iran, one that prioritizes long-term security and stability over short-term diplomatic achievements. Unless the current instability in the region (fueled by Hamas and the October 7th attack on Israel) is considered to be par for the course here on out.