Secretary of State Tillerson Warns of the Iranian Threat in Syria

(U.S. State Department) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke at Stanford University's Hoover Institute on Wednesday: "Continued strategic threats to the U.S. from not just ISIS and al-Qaeda but from others persist. And this threat I'm referring to is principally Iran. As part of its strategy to create a northern arch, stretching from Iran to Lebanon and the Mediterranean, Iran has dramatically strengthened its presence in Syria by deploying Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops; supporting Lebanese Hizbullah; and importing proxy forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere. Through its position in Syria, Iran is positioning to continue attacking U.S. interests, our allies, and personnel in the region." The U.S. desires an end state for Syria in which "Iranian influence in Syria is diminished, their dreams of a northern arch are denied, and Syria's neighbors are secure from all threats emanating from Syria." "ISIS presently has one foot in the grave, and by maintaining an American military presence in Syria until the full and complete defeat of ISIS is achieved, it will soon have two....It is vital for the United States to remain engaged in Syria....Ungoverned spaces, especially in conflict zones, are breeding grounds for ISIS and other terrorist organizations....Similarly, we must persist in Syria to thwart al-Qaeda, which still has a substantial presence and base of operations in northwest Syria." "U.S. disengagement from Syria would provide Iran the opportunity to further strengthen its position in Syria. As we have seen from Iran's proxy wars and public announcements, Iran seeks dominance in the Middle East and the destruction of our ally, Israel. As a destabilized nation and one bordering Israel, Syria presents an opportunity that Iran is all too eager to exploit." "Finally, reducing and expelling malicious Iranian influence from Syria depends on a democratic Syria. For many years, Syria under Bashar al-Assad has been a client state of Iran. A Syrian central government that is not under the control of Assad will have new legitimacy to assert its authority over the country....A stable, unified, independent Syria will serve the national security interests of the United States, its allies, and our partners."

2018-01-18 00:00:00

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