McConnell: “Unity, Strength, and Resolve” the Only Way to Confront “Basket Case” Iran
‘Peace agreements between Israel and the UAE and Israel and Bahrain will be documented at the White House later today. Even more Arab countries are reportedly considering following suit. The winds of change are blowing across the Middle East.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Middle East:
“Yesterday I discussed the tide of good news flowing out of the Middle East.
“Peace agreements between Israel and the UAE and Israel and Bahrain will be documented at the White House later today. Even more Arab countries are reportedly considering following suit.
“The winds of change are blowing across the Middle East.
“Thanks in large part of the hard work of the Trump administration, they are blowing toward peace.
“But I also mentioned yesterday that not everyone is happy. Not everyone in the Middle East is living in the 21st century. Some are too vested in the old fights and enmities and are afraid to see them go.
“President Abbas, who is now in the 16th year of a 4-year term at the head of the Palestinian Authority, predictably tried to dismiss the compromise as “nonsense.”
“But as the Obama administration’s Middle East expert Dennis Ross wrote a few days ago, continuing this failed approach would just guarantee Palestinians ‘will be left behind’ while the rest of the Arab world builds a better future.
“And then there’s the theocratic basket case that is Iran. Last weekend, as if perfectly scripted to contrast with the hopeful news of optimism and peace coming from the Arab world, the Mullahs reminded the whole world of their flagrant disdain for human dignity and basic human rights.
“They carried out a hurried execution in the face of international condemnation. Navid Afkari, a 27-year-old Iranian wrestler arrested during anti-government protests in 2018, was tortured into confessing to the murder of a security guard. He was hanged on Saturday.
“According to his mother, who was barred from visiting her son before his execution, Navid and two brothers arrested alongside him were forced to testify against one another. As they mourn their brother, these two young men themselves face decades in prison for standing up to the brutal injustices of the Iranian regime.
“Stories like this are tragic, but they aren’t shocking. Not in a country where dissent and free expression are denied. Not from rulers who regularly use both domestic and international terrorism.
“This regime has its fingerprints on destabilizing campaigns, assassinations, and violence against civilians in every corner of the Middle East. From the shores of the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Aden.
“The Obama-Biden administration’s “Iran deal,” the JCPOA, did not improve any of this bad behavior. It ignored Iran’s non-nuclear aggression. It let Tehran continue R&D on enriched uranium. If anything, Iran’s behavior has only gotten worse.
“And that bad deal is still doing damage. This year, it will sunset a prudent UN Security Council resolution that had kept Iran from buying conventional weapons. And this summer the UN Security Council, with the votes of Russia and China, refused to extend this 13-year-old embargo.
“Returning to the JCPOA has become a sort of mantra for our political left. But really, the reflex to oppose everything President Trump does can be a gift to our adversaries. Former Vice President Biden promises to rush back into the bad deal without securing any improvements. He proposes we’d be able to renegotiate the bad deal from inside of it, after tossing away any leverage in advance.
“There is one right way to deal with regimes like Iran. Toughness and resolve.
“That’s why President Trump successfully restored an important measure of deterrence when he removed Iran’s top terrorist, Qassem Soleimani, from the battlefield for good.
“Even though Tehran is weakened by sanctions, political unrest, and economic unease, they are also emboldened by our internal divisions and eager to exploit rifts among our allies.
“We know from publicly-released intelligence that Iran seeks to interfere in our politics. We know that Iranian-backed groups continue to threaten our forces in Iraq and Syria. We know Iranian proxies like Hizballah pose a growing threat to Israel.
“Unity, strength, and resolve are the way to defend our security and our interests. Not capitulation.”