Senate, House Abraham Accords caucuses introduce legislation to counter maritime threats from Iran
The MARITIME Act Legislation follows a similar initiative last year focused on air and missile defense
Iranian Army office/AFP via Getty Images
Members of the Senate and House Abraham Accords Caucuses introduced legislation on Thursday that would require the Department of Defense to develop a strategy with Middle East partners and allies to counter maritime threats from Iran and other malign actors.
The Maritime Architecture and Response to International Terrorism in the Middle East (MARITIME) Act, which seeks to build on the Abraham Accords, follows up a successful initiative by the caucuses in 2022, the DEFEND Act. That bill took a similar approach to integrated regional air- and missile-defense projects, also aimed at countering Iran. The DEFEND Act was ultimately integrated into the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.
The bill is being sponsored by Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), James Lankford (R-OK), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) in the Senate and Reps. Ann Wagner (R-MO), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), David Trone (D-MD), Don Bacon (R-NE) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) in the House.
“The Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall seek to build upon the historic opportunities created by the Abraham Accords and the incorporation of Israel into the area of responsibility of the United States Central Command to develop a Middle East integrated maritime domain awareness and interdiction capability,” the bill reads.
The legislation points to threats from manned and unmanned naval systems from Iran and its affiliates, as well as violent extremist organizations, criminal networks and pirates. It mandates that the administration submit, within 60 days of the bill’s passage, a strategy for such cooperation.
The bill also directs the secretary of defense to study whether a joint fund among the U.S. and its partners should be created to facilitate integrated maritime awareness and interdiction capabilities.
“The Abraham Accords have enabled unprecedented security cooperation between Israel and Arab partners. Recent hostile naval actions by Iran and its terrorist proxies demonstrate the significant threat that Iran poses to maritime security in the Middle East,” Rosen said in a statement.
Iran has long engaged in efforts to disrupt international waterways and international shipping, particularly in the Persian Gulf region.
“The MARITIME Act will help the United States and its Middle East partners work together to counter sea-based threats from erratic actors like Iran, transnational criminals, and terrorist extremists,” Wagner said in a statement. “As Iran continues to flout restrictions on its nuclear program and fund terrorist proxies around the region, closer security cooperation between Abraham Accords countries must remain a top U.S. priority.”