Iran is the main source of instability in the Middle East, and ISIS also remains a threat to the region, even though the organization no longer holds territory in Iraq and Syria, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East said today at the Wilson Center.
Dana Stroul said Iran’s continued sponsorship and cultivation of violent proxies and terrorists, its proliferation of increasingly advanced and deadly unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, its ballistic missile program, maritime aggression and smuggling activities at sea are all reasons Iran poses a threat.
“Specifically, US forces that remain present in northeastern Syria to support the fight against ISIS through local partners are very regularly threatened by Iran and Iran-backed proxies,” she said.
ISIS continues to seek to reconstitute itself and continues to direct and inspire attacks in the region and beyond, Stroul added, she said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. Support capability to support partner forces in their fight against ISIS.
The Middle East is a key arena for competing with China. It’s not a fulcrum, but rather how DOD “thinks about competing with China in the Middle East,” she explained. “Second, as a ministry, we rely on multilateral security cooperation to effectively deter against Iran and Iran-backed threats, violent extremist organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda, and other cross-border threats; and third, we support the State Department in implementing proactive diplomacy to defuse tensions and de-escalate ongoing conflicts.”
The Defense Department’s Global Posture Review specifically emphasized that the United States will maintain its presence in Iraq and Syria to support its partners’ efforts to permanently defeat ISIS, Stroul said.
“The [Syrian President Bashar Assad’s] The regime’s continued pursuit of a military solution to the conflict by Russia and Iran today has left the Syrian people more vulnerable than ever,” she said when they were at any point [the Syrian] conflict,” she said.
“Assad remains unyielding, untouched and unmoved by the misery around him. In recognition of this reality, the [President Joe Biden’s] The government’s approach to Syria is based on several key priorities: expanding humanitarian access across Syria, maintaining and sustaining our military presence in partnership with local partners, including the Syrian Democratic Forces, to keep pressure on ISIS,” Stroul said.
Stroul said the United States would not lift nor lift sanctions on Syria. “We will not support Syria’s reconstruction until there is irreversible progress towards a political solution.”
Regarding the DOD mission, she said, the specific authorization for the DOD in northeastern Syria is to defeat ISIS, and the goal for US partners is for them to apply independent pressure to prevent ISIS regrouped in Iraq and Syria. “But the reality is that this will not be achievable in the short term, which is why we continue to emphasize our commitment to maintaining the US troop presence in Iraq and Syria in every policy and strategy document,” she added.
The Department of Defense continues to act as part of the global coalition to counter ISIS, which brings together 79 nations and five international organizations to provide a range of military capabilities, funding and political support to the campaign against ISIS, Stroul said.
“As the nation contemplates the continued brutal images and reports from Ukraine, those in the Middle East and those displaced by the violence in Syria know only too well what sustained and sustained Russian support for an aggressor in Syria looks like.” , she called.
“And we know what it looks like when the international community doesn’t stand together and demand accountability for these actions. It seems incredibly important to me that those in the Middle East champion a rules-based international order from which we have all benefited; Now it’s time to stand up,” said the assistant secretary.
“You know this is a black and white situation when it comes to Russian aggression in Ukraine,” she said. “When it comes to displaced people, … war crimes and atrocities, we’ve seen this since 2015, when Russia decided to support Assad in Syria. And now, of course, is the time to not just stand together to hold accountability and push back about information operations, humanitarian aid [and] sanctions related to Ukraine, but to reaffirm our commitment not to allow Assad’s atrocities in Syria.”