The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said U.S. policies had injected “uncertainty” into the nation’s relationship with Israel amid growing tensions with Iran.
“Israel has been a little bit distrustful of the United States, I think that’s been… caused, a little bit of friction,” said Rogers on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.
“The pullout of Iraq, the announced timeline or increased pullout by a year in Afghanistan, the changing fundamentally of our doctrine militarily has I think rattled the cage a little bit,” he said.
Rogers said that historically the U.S. had been able to counsel Israel on its decision to employ military force, but that mixed signals from the Obama administration on how to handle Iran’s nuclear program had led the Israelis to believe they were in a corner and may have to act alone.
“We normally work so well together, about ‘maybe this is not the right time for you to launch an attack,’” said Rogers.
“I think what you see now is more a reflection of a little bit of frustration on both sides of this equation. Israel’s holding back a little bit. The United States they’re not sure exactly what they are going to do. We’ve got to fix that and we need to fix it now,” he added.
Rogers agreed when asked by CNN host Candy Crowley if the two allies were “feeling each other out publicly” about how to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. “Unfortunately, I think yes,” he said.
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes yet the United States and allies believe Tehran is trying to obtain nuclear weapons.
The U.S. has enacted sanctions against Iran’s central bank and the EU will begin an oil embargo against Iran on July 1 all to dissuade the regime from pursuing nuclear arms.
Lawmakers have shown concern that the U.S. may be drawn into a conflict with Iran after Tehran warned it would block the Strait of Hormuz in response to any sanctions. There is also growing concern that Israel may strike Iran.
The Washington Post reported last week that Defense Secretary Panetta thinks “there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June — before Iran enters what Israelis described as a 'zone of immunity' to commence building a nuclear bomb."
Rogers said Israel was already concerned about the uncertain political situation in Egypt as well as the violence in Syria and that Iran’s quest for nuclear weaponry was adding to the strain.
“And they’re not getting great signals from the United States right now and we, we need to put that back together in a hurry.”
Rogers said Israel had a “red line” against allowing Iran to gain nuclear weapon capabilities.
When asked how close they were to that red line, he said “I think it’s close. And you have to remember that Iranians moving their enrichment facilities to Qom is on purpose. They know it’s a very difficult military target to strike.”
But Rogers cautioned that the U.S. and Israel needed to coordinate their response to Iran. “If Israel does a unilateral strike, this could be a real problem for the national security interests of the United States,” he warned.