Oct 15, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Sen. Lindsey Graham warns Iran about escalating violence in Israel

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) didn't mince words for Iran on Sunday during an appearance on NBC's "Meet The Press."

Driving the news: Graham warned Iran against involvement in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, saying "if you escalate this war, we're coming for you."

  • Graham's warning came hours after Iran, via a message from the United Nations, told Israel it would intervene if the nation moved forward with its planned ground operation in Gaza.
  • Iran becoming involved in the conflict would escalate to a regional war if Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, or another group became involved, either directly or indirectly.
  • Iran has funded both Hezbollah and Hamas in the past, though Hamas' links to the nation are more tenuous than Hezbollah's.

What he's saying: "Here's my message. If Hezbollah, which is a proxy of Iran, launches a massive attack on Israel, I would consider that a threat to the -- to the State of Israel, existential in nature. I will introduce a resolution in the United States Senate to allow military action by the United States in conjunction with Israel to knock Iran out of the oil business," Graham said.

  • Asked by "Meet the Press" moderator Kristen Welker if he would "declare war on Iran," Graham said he is " poised to use military force to destroy the source of funding for Hamas and Hezbollah."
  • "The idea that Iran read about this operation in the paper, or on television is laughable. 93% of Hezbollah and Hamas' money comes from Iran," Graham added. "They're the source of the problem. They're the great evil. So, if Hezbollah escalates against Israel, it will be because Iran told them to. Then Iran, you're in the crosshairs of the United States and Israel."

Worth noting: Speaking on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden's order to send two aircraft carriers to the eastern Mediterranean was done to send a "very clear message of deterrence to any state or any actor that would seek to exploit this situation."

  • Sullivan added that the U.S. cannot "rule out that Iran would choose to get directly engaged some way," and is preparing for "every possible contingency."
  • Last week, President Biden also cautioned Iran from engaging in the war. While no aggressive action has been taken by Iran, tensions remain high in the area and skirmishes have broken out on the Iran-Lebanon border, Axios' Barak Ravid reports.
  • Iran has denied any involvement in the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.
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