Connecticut continues to react to escalating tensions between the United States and Iran sparked by the killing of a senior Iranian general by American forces.
There were dozens of demonstrations across the United States over the weekend, including one in downtown New Haven Sunday where protesters condemned the killing of Qassem Soleimani and the Trump administration’s decision to send thousands more soldiers to the Middle East.
Ali Moravej, an Iranian American living in New Haven, has family in two of Iran’s most populous cities, Shiraz and Tehran.
Moravej knew that tensions could escalate among the U.S., its allies and Iran, but he was still surprised to see it come to a crisis in the form of the deadly drone strike.
“Up until now, it’s been, ‘You did this, so I’m going to do this. You bombed this oil port, so I’m going to attack this embassy.’ But this is really calling for like, an initiation of combat, in my opinion, and that’s something we should be worried about,” Moravej said.
Moravej spends his free time volunteering in support of Iranian Americans. He’s concerned not only about his family in Iran, but also for others living elsewhere in the Middle East.
“There’s a domestic backlash that we know is going to happen towards the Iranians, but Iran has militias in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, and they’re going to try to push back and use the situation to get a little more influence,” Moravej said.
A local nonprofit representing Connecticut’s Muslim community tells Connecticut Public Radio that in the wake of the drone strike, the organization has been contacted by concerned Iranian Americans. The Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is advising them to understand their rights, particularly if they’re contacted by law enforcement.
“I have received a couple calls from Iranian Americans and Iranian visa holders that have been contacted by the FBI,” said Tark Aouadi, executive director of CAIR-CT. “It is perfectly fine to speak with the FBI, but you should have an attorney present and exercise your rights being in the country.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told CBS that the killing of Soleimani may not have been legal, even if there were an imminent threat of an attack from Iran.
“The question is, why didn’t the administration look at other means to try to stop this attack from happening?” Murphy asked. “Reporting suggests his own military leaders were shocked that the president chose an assassination, versus more targeted strikes against other Iranian or Iranian proxy assets in the region.”
He said the killing has made the region less stable and increased threats to American lives.
“The very fact that we’re watching the Iraqis expel the United States from Iraq so that we can’t carry out the fight against ISIS, right -- I think it is proof that this ultimately may accrue to the detriment of American national security interests,” he said.
Murphy has called on the administration to give a full briefing to Congress on the operation as soon as possible.