Thursday, February 13, 2020

Iranian War Powers Resolution and Special Forces Operations

On February 13, 2020 the United States Senate passed the Iranian War Power Resolution by a vote of 55-45. This resolution is aimed at “reining in President Donald Trump’s ability to use military action against Iran without prior Congressional approval.” (ABC) This bill was proposed after Iranian general Soleimani was killed in a drone strike on January 3, 2020.

Despite Soleimani being killed by a drone strike, however, the passing of this resolution raises a few more questions. One of those questions being what does this resolution mean for the operation of United States special forces in Iran.

Historically, the United States president has been able to mobilize special forces without prior congressional approval or even before notifying congress that the raid has happened until after it has been carried out. This has been seen in the Obama administration’s raid that killed Osama Bin Laden and more recently the Trump administration’s raid on Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.

Now, what this resolution means, should it be passed, is that the United States Congress would have to approve any further special forces operations against Iran. The time of Congress not knowing about covert operations until after they are carried out, at least in Iran, would end. This severely limits President Trump's authority and could possibly lead to necessary operations not being carried out in time.

However, this resolution also means that planned operations against Iran will be more carefully scrutinized, and should they be deemed too hostile or too dangerous, will not be approved. This could lead to a severe reduction of United States special forces operations in the Middle East.

The resolution now goes to the United States House of Representatives, who is expected to pass it, then to the desk of President Trump, who is expected to veto it. As of right now, the Senate does not have the majority needed to override the veto.

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