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Mattis: Iran working to destabilize the Middle East

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“Everywhere you find turmoil [in the Middle East], you find Iran’s hand in it,” Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon yesterday.

 During an impromptu news conference, Mattis addressed questions about Iran and U.S. efforts to expose Iran’s malicious behavior.

He praised U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s Dec. 14 presentation at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling here that highlighted Iran’s illegal arms program. Haley stood in front of an Iranian missile that Iran’s proxy – the Houthis – fired at Riyadh International Airport, a civilian target in Saudi Arabia. The missile didn’t hit the airport, but if it had, it potentially could have killed hundreds of innocent civilians.

Haley’s briefing included physical evidence that Iran is providing ballistic missiles to the Houthis, Mattis said. “What we are doing in that region,” he added, “is standing by allies and partners, and we’re on one hand exposing, on the other hand helping them build their own capability to reject Iranian influence.”

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Other Iranian activities

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In addition to its support on the Arabian Peninsula to the Houthis – a Shia group seeking to take control of Yemen — the secretary cited some of Iran’s activities elsewhere in the region.

“We find Iran actively engaged in keeping [Syrian President Bashar] Assad in power, despite the murder of his own people on the industrial scale, including the use of chemical weapons,” Mattis said. “We see what [Iran has] done with Lebanese Hezbollah in Lebanon and the threat to peace and the support they’ve given to Assad and the threat to Israel, for example.”

There is no military role for the United States in exposing Iran’s activities, Mattis said. “The reason Ambassador Haley was there, and not one of our generals, is this is a diplomatically led effort to expose to the world what Iran is up to,” he said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)

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NEW: Joe Biden Bashes Incoming Trump Administration In Leaked 2016 Call to President of Ukraine

Completely inappropriate.

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Joe Biden speaks in critical and partisan terms of the incoming Trump administration in a new leaked call to the President of Ukraine unveiled Wednesday.

In the call, conducted in November 2016 a week after then-candidate Trump’s election victory, Biden bashes the incoming administration to the foreign leader, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Biden assails the Trump transition team as incompetent, turning down the idea of visiting the country before the January transition before Trump is “fully briefed” on matters related to Ukraine.

In a second call, Biden asks for Poroshenko to describe his conversations with incoming President Trump, going to to speak of Trump in more dismissive terms. He describes Trump as a “dog who caught the car, and who doesn’t know what to do.” Not quite a “dog-faced pony soldier,” but definitely not an appropriate way for an outgoing vice president to describe an incoming president to a foreign leader.

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A Ukrainian comedian originally released the calls, suggesting questionable operational security within the conversations of Joe Biden and Poroshenko. Biden has a lengthy history of ethical questions regarding his relationship with Ukraine, including looking the other way as his son Hunter secured an extremely lucrative position at a Ukrainian oil company without any experience whatsoever in the energy industry.

Biden himself would later go on to demand the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating corruption allegations against the younger Biden, a clear conflict of interest Biden merely dismissed when he spoke openly of securing the prosecutor’s firing at a Council on Foreign Relations public event.

This is a totally inappropriate way for a Vice President to speak to a foreign leader, and the public should be concerned about how Biden plans to conduct diplomacy should he be elected President.

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