Lawmakers Sound Off On Middle East Protests

By: Lindsay Veremis Email
By: Lindsay Veremis Email

Ramping up the American hatred in the Middle East, another wave of anti-American protests hit the streets of Afghanistan, Indonesia, Pakistan and Lebanon Monday.

In a rare appearance, the leader of Hezbollah told crowds the U.S. must be held accountable for a film that mocks the Prophet Mohammed.

Republican representative Mike Rogers, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, downplays the film's role in the protests.

He believes the attack in Libya that killed four Americans last week was pre-planned, not spontaneous outrage over the movie.

Rogers says al Qaeda and other terror groups saw an opportunity and are now using the film to incite violence.

"Some rallies are spontaneous, but extremists are taking advantage of that and our country needs to pull together and have one voice," Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan said.

Now entering a second week, the protests are inflaming not only U.S. relations in the Middle East, but ties to longstanding aly Israel.

"It's clear that Israel is in one place and the United State is in another," Rogers said.

He says Israel feels pinched by the growing violence and an Iran nearing nuclear capabilities.

This weekend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to Americans directly on national television. He's demanding a U.S. president willing to draw a red line with Iran.

"Israel doesn't believe when the administration says all options are on the table and more importantly neither does Iran," Rogers explained. "Israel is becoming the center of a very destabalized neighborhood."

In contrast, Stabenow says she has confidence in the way the administration is handling the crisis.

"Everybody understands nobody gains if Iran has a nuclear weapon and the tough sanctions that the congress has put in place that the president has signed are having an effect," she said.

Rogers argues the sanctions may be taking a bite out of Iran's economy, but are not slowing its arms race.

"We have to have something visual that they can see, that says we're serious," he said. "They need to understand that if they continue on a path to nuclear weapons there will be a consequence."

Rogers says Israel is at a tipping point. If the U.S. does not act soon and stand with country to destroy Iran's nuclear sites, he believes Israel will strike alone.

With Iran a major source of the world's oil, he says would have a direct impact on our economy and costs at home.

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