News Release

Dems Eye Hawkish Eliot Engel to Chair House Foreign Affairs Committee

STEPHEN ZUNES, zunes at usfca.edu, @SZunes

Zunes is professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, where he serves as coordinator of the program in Middle Eastern Studies. He just wrote the piece “Dems Eye Hawkish Eliot Engel to Chair House Foreign Affairs Committee, which states: “Congressman Eliot Engel, Democrat of New York, currently the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will likely be the choice of the Democratic Party leadership to chair that influential committee when the new Democratic majority comes to office in January. In that role, he will serve as the Democratic Party’s most prominent figure on foreign policy.

“Unfortunately, on many key issues, his views are closer to that of Republicans than the majority of his fellow Democrats. Indeed, the prominent pro-Trump neoconservative activist Morton Klein has praised Engel’s likely ascension to the chairmanship, describing him as someone ‘who fully understands the truth of the Arab-Islamic war against Israel and the West.’

“In order to frighten Americans into supporting a U.S. takeover of Iraq, Engel falsely claimed just prior to the 2002 war authorization vote to invade Iraq that the Iraqi government was still producing chemical and biological weapons. He was among a rightwing minority of Congressional Democrats who voted to authorize the illegal, unnecessary, and predictably tragic U.S. invasion of that oil-rich country.

“More recently, Engel worked successfully to kill a Democratic-sponsored 2017 measure that would have ended U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen, which has killed many thousands of civilians and threatens millions more with starvation and disease.

“He was one of only a handful of Democrats to oppose the Iran anti-nuclear agreement. …

[Forbes reports “The U.S. Never Dropped As Many Bombs On Afghanistan As It Did In 2018.'”]

“In addition, Engel has opposed the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, has called for expanding NATO to include Ukraine and Georgia, and supports Morocco’s illegal annexation of occupied Western Sahara, insisting that the United States accept Moroccan sovereignty and deny the former Spanish colony the right of self-determination as demanded by the United Nations and the World Court. …

“It is no longer the case that those with the most seniority automatically become committee chairs. Democratic House leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer could decide to appoint a less rightwing chair. Roots Action and other progressive groups have organized a petition to persuade the Democratic Party leadership to not give Engel the chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and to appoint someone without such dangerous views.”