In his State of the Union address early Wednesday morning, US President Donald Trump said they will not avert their “eyes from a regime that chants ‘death to America’ and threatens genocide against the Jewish people.” He was referring to Iran.
He claimed that his decision to pull the US out of the nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions on the country has put immense pressure on the regime and stifled its regional ambitions, as well as slowed its ability to obtain a nuclear weapon.
“My administration has acted decisively to confront the world’s leading state sponsor of terror: the radical regime in Iran,” he said. “To ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons, I withdrew the United States from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. And last fall, we put in place the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a country.”
Tensions between the two countries have escalated following mutual strikes. Trump recently insisted he wants to keep troops in neighbouring Iraq in order to “watch Iran”. He hopes to maintain a military presence in the country despite withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
Last month Israel admitted it had attacked Iranian military targets in Syria in what was one of the first times the state has taken responsibility for any strike on Syria. Iran and Hezbollah are sworn enemies to Israel and have been crucial allies to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“As a candidate for president, I pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars,” Trump told Congress.
“When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria. Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty killers.”
Now, as we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home,” he said, referring to his decision to withdraw US troops from these countries.
He also discussed the ongoing efforts for a peaceful reconciliation in Afghanistan. “I have also accelerated our negotiations to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan. Our troops have fought with unmatched valor — and thanks to their bravery, we are now able to pursue a political solution to this long and bloody conflict,” he told members of congress during his speech.
“In Afghanistan, my administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban. As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism. We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement — but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace,” he said.
The US president also discussed internal US politics, calling on both elected representatives and citizens to reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.
His statement came after the 35-day government shutdown he initiated over the Democrats’ refusal to approve funding for his border wall project along the Mexico border.