Bernie Sanders lashed back a comments calling for him to "apologize" for his condemnation of an United States armed conflict with Iranian forces in the Middle East after tensions have risen between the two countries.
Sanders proclaimed on Twitter that he will "apologize to no one," saying that he supports a peaceful diplomatic solution and will continue to oppose an armed conflict with Iran.
"I was right about Vietnam. I was right about Iraq. I will do everything in my power to prevent a war with Iran. I apologize to no one," Sanders tweeted, a post that included a video explaining his reasoning.
The White House officially announced its intention late last month to end sanction waivers on eight countries that are continuing to buy Iranian oil, increasing the US’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic.
Sanders has held an anti-war stance for quite some time, including both the Iraq and Vietnam wars - and he has backed his stance further with the recent tensions rising in the Middle East.
"Recently I've been criticized a bit because of my opposition to war," Sanders claims in the post. "So let me be very clear: I make no apologies to anybody that when I was a young man, before I was elected to anything, I opposed the war in Vietnam. And I know what that war did to my generation."
"I'm going to do everything that I can to prevent a war with Iran, because if you think the war in Iraq was a disaster, my guess is that war in Iran would be even worse."
Threats of a rising conflict have been heard from both countries and the military presence of the US Navy in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea has risen significantly in recent weeks in response to warnings about potential Iranian attacks on American interests and positions in the Middle East.
On May 12, four oil tankers were sabotaged in the Gulf of Oman. While an anonymous US official hinted that Iran or its allies might be to blame. As of Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said that top administration officials told senators in a briefing the recent attacks on shipping and a pipeline in the Middle East were directed by the Iranian government and the ayatollah.The United States announced on Friday the deployment of 1,500 troops
to the Middle East, describing it as an effort to bolster defenses against Iran as it accused the country's Revolutionary Guards of direct responsibility for this month's tanker attacks.
US President Donald Trump publicly announced the 1,500 figure, which had been previously reported by Reuters, and described it as a defensive measure. The troops include personnel manning missile defense systems, aerial surveillance to spot threats and engineers to fortify defenses.
"We want to have protection in the Middle East. We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan.
The deployment marks a reversal of sorts for Trump, who only on Thursday said he thought more troops were unnecessary. Trump has sought to detangle the US military from open-ended conflicts in places like Syria and Afghanistan.
The deployment is relatively small, compared with the about 70,000 American troops now stationed across a region that stretches from Egypt to Afghanistan. In addition, some 600 of the 1,500 "new" troops are already in the Middle East manning Patriot missiles, and will see their deployments extended.
The day after the oil tankers attack, the Iranian-backed Houthis used drones to attack Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities. But the US did not respond militarily to the attack on a US ally by an Iranian-backed group. Instead, Saudi Arabia called together Arab leaders. But it, too, has yet to respond.
On May 19, a rocket was fired near the US Embassy in Baghdad. Once again the US did not respond. However, last Sunday, President Donald Trump tweeted, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.”
John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, announced earlier this month the deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and its strike group in the Persian Gulf region over “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.”
The Lincoln Carrier Strike Group then passed through the Suez Canal, according to the US Central Command. The aircraft carrier is being accompanied by three destroyers: the USS Bainbridge, USS Mason and USS Nitze, as well as the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf and a Spanish frigate, the ESPS Mendez Nunez.
In addition, B-52s from the 20th Bomb Squadron have landed in Qatar and elsewhere in “southwest Asia” – possibly the United Arab Emirates. And on May 10, the Pentagon announced it would be returning a Patriot missile battery to the Mideast, as well as sending the USS Arlington, an amphibious warship carrying marines, to join the Abraham Lincoln.
Collectively these moves are a response to a possible threat to US forces in the region by Iran, according to the White House, which did not specify what that threat is. Iran dismissed the claim as nonsense, but Bolton warned the Islamic republic that any attack on American interests or allies would face “unrelenting force.”
The US-Iran escalation has put into question the future of the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with Germany and the UN Security Council’s five permanent members: US, UK, France, Russia and China. The US withdrew from the deal in 2018.
Iran announced last week that it had suspended two commitments under the nuclear accord, and threatened to increase uranium enrichment if it was not shielded from the effects of the sanctions within 60 days.
“I think our steps were very prudent and we’ve put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans and that is what is extremely important,” Shanahan said, “I’d say we’re in a period where the threat remains high and our job is to make sure that there is no miscalculation by the Iranians.”Jerusalem Post Staff, Reuters, Seth J. Frantzman and Omri Nahmias contributed to this report.