On January 25, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said the United States will take leverage economic relationships to make it more difficult for Iran to fund destabilizing activities in the Middle East. In remarks to the Emirates Diplomatic Academy in the United Arab Emirates, Ryan also expressed support for Iranians who demonstrated against economic hardships and government corruption. He traveled with a bipartisan Congressional delegation to the region. The following are excerpts of his remarks as prepared for delivery.
The U.S. Embassy welcomes the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Paul Ryan to Abu Dhabi. During his conversation with young #Emirati diplomats at the @UAE_EDA Speaker Ryan discussed the strong and friendly relations between the U.S. and the #UAE. #USAinUAE pic.twitter.com/qeyIIUFOl3— US Mission to UAE (@USAinUAE) January 25, 2018
“Thank you so much, Director Leon. It is great to be here with Ambassador Leaf, Ambassador Otaiba, Sheikha Lubna, Dr. Al Jaber, other distinguished guests, and all of you—budding diplomats who will serve your country well in the years to come.
“I am about to wrap up a visit to the region with a bipartisan Congressional Delegation.
“Before arriving here, we were in Saudi Arabia where we met with His Majesty King Salman and the Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman.
“We had excellent discussions on ways to continue strengthening our ties across a range of issues.
“And here in Abu Dhabi, we have a singular focus which is building on our common mission to defeat and degrade our adversaries.
“For too long, American leadership has been lacking in the Middle East. In that vacuum, others have filled the void.
“But that is changing. The way I see it, we do not have a choice but to lead. It is American leadership on the global stage that has kept the peace in this post-Cold War era. And it is that leadership, working with our allies and partners around the world, that is so desperately needed today.
“Back in Washington, we in Congress are working to provide the military with tools and resources that are required stay ahead of the challenges we face today.
“My top focus is ensuring that the Department of Defense, under the leadership of Secretary Mattis, is second to none.
“So through that lens, I want to outline two things that we’ve been talking about on this trip that are essential to advancing our mutual interests.
“First, we must continue stepping up the fight against ISIS…
“Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, we are focused on the Iranian threat to regional stability.
“This is an existential threat to you and it is an existential threat to Saudi Arabia—I want you to know that we see it exactly the same way that you do.
“Of course, we have all been watching the recent protests in Iran, which is further proof that the regime has firmly turned all segments of Iranian society against it. To those of us who follow this regularly and understands how this regime operates, this does not come as a surprise.
“But it is noteworthy and worth emphasizing—the regime is losing its stranglehold on the population.
“When it comes to supporting peaceful protests against the tyrannical regime in Tehran, we need to be unequivocal. That is why we in the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution backing the Iranian people in their pursuit of justice, freedom, and opportunity.
“Let me be clear: The Congress will not repeat the mistakes of the past and we will not remain silent about the plight of the Iranian people who have faced brutal repression at the hands of the regime in Tehran.
“The Trump administration’s comprehensive Iran strategy seeks to hold the regime accountable for its litany of destructive activities—and more importantly, is taking concrete steps to roll back Iranian expansion. Now we all need to work together to implement this strategy.
“That means stopping the Revolutionary Guard Corps’ quest to establish new Hezbollah-like terrorist organizations in the region.
“That means preventing the regime from securing a reliable land bridge from Tehran to Beirut.
“To effectively combat these threats, we need to leverage our economic relationships to squeeze the regime in Tehran and make it more difficult to fund these activities. And we need to work with our allies, particularly our allies in the region, to leverage each of our unique skill sets and expertise.
“So those are the two main issues that our delegation has been focused on during our trip.
“There is no question that we have our work cut out for us.
“These threats are real and they are evolving at a rapid pace. But I know that if we redouble our efforts to work together to combat these threats, we will ultimately be successful.
“We should never underestimate the power and potential of strong American leadership.
“So on behalf of my colleagues, I want to express how grateful we are to have such staunch allies here in the Emirates. And thank you again for being here. I look forward to our conversation.”