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Hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee - "Iran and Syria: Next Steps--Part II"


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Congressman Chabot called for the Obama Administration to take a different approach in their policy with Iran and Syria during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing today entitled "Iran and Syria: Next Steps-- Part II . The hearing examined each nation's ballistic missile programs, their support for violent extremists, and continued human rights violations.

The text of Congressman Chabot's statement is below:

"Since taking office, the Obama Administration's policy toward Iran and Syria has been characterized chiefly by its engagement with the ruling regimes. Whether or not that was the right policy at the time, the situation we face today with respect to these two countries is vastly different than it was in January 2009.

"Recent actions make this conclusion irrefutable. Damascus is not only continuing to arrest, beat, torture, and murder its way through the current protests, but it is now exporting its brutality to Lebanon in flagrant violation of international law. Over the past several weeks, the Syrian army has on numerous occasions violated Lebanese sovereignty territorial sovereignty. One recent incursion culminated in the death of a Lebanese farmer after Syrian armored vehicles allegedly penetrated approximately two and a half miles into Lebanese territory in clear violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701. Meanwhile, Tehran--as we all know--plotted to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. on American soil. The actions by both regimes show a disdain for international law and norms that is incompatible with the values and interests of the United States. Plainly speaking, the blood on their hands and the impunity with which they continue to act shows that these regimes are beyond salvation.

"But anyone who is surprised that the thugs in Tehran or Damascus would take these actions has been living in a dangerous state of denial. Both regimes continue to respond to carrots and sticks alike with ridicule as they mock the legitimate concerns of the international community.

"From the outside, however, it appears that the Administration's policies have remained distressingly unresponsive. In the case of Iran, for example, I am concerned that there are still those in the Administration who hold out hope of a grand bargain on the nuclear program. It is long-passed time to jettison this dangerous fantasy as it is presently warping our entire policy towards the region.

"There is no question that the illicit Iranian nuclear program must remain at the top of our priority list. The nuclear program is, however, a symptom of the disease rather than the disease itself. I want to be clear: the nuclear program is a paramount challenge to U.S. core national security interests as well as those of our allies and it must be addressed. But to speak of the nuclear program independently of the regime which pursues it is in effect putting the cart before the horse. A nuclear program is not in and of itself what makes the regime nefarious; it is the perverse nature of the regime that makes the nuclear program so dangerous.

"It is for this reason that it is time to close the door on engagement with the regime in Tehran and call for its departure. Not only has the regime shown itself unwilling to budge, but continued engagement only risks abandoning and alienating the Iranian people who will--I hope sooner rather than later--be in the driver's seat."

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