Meeting Mattis, Calls for Active US Role in Middle East
March 7, 2017
Minister Avigdor Liberman met Tuesday with his US counterpart James Mattis at
the Pentagon and called for an “active America” in the Middle East.
two discussed a number of regional issues, including Iran, Syria and Lebanon,
among other subjects, according to a statement issued by Liberman’s office.
told Mattis that Israel views with growing concern recent developments in
Lebanon, in particular what he described as Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s
transformation of the Lebanese army into another branch of the Hezbollah terror
and the United Nationa have recently protested comments from Aoun, who said
that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah plays “a complementary role to the
Lebanese army” in countering Israel.
long as the Lebanese army is not strong enough to battle Israel … we feel the
need for its existence,” Aoun told the Egyptian TV network CBC, referring to
Iran’s proxy group Hezbollah.
which was founded in the early 1980s to fight against Israel’s military
presence in Lebanon, has long justified its vast arsenal of weapons as needed to
fight against alleged Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty, despite Israel
withdrawing all its forces from southern Lebanon in 2000.
slammed Aoun’s comments and the UN said they violated the terms of UN Security
Council Resolution 1701, reached as part of a ceasefire agreement to end the
2006 war, prohibits the country from being allowed to field militias such as
their talks Tuesday in Washington, Liberman and Mattis agreed on the need to
form an anti-terror coalition of “moderate forces” in the region, the
also said the security ties between Israel and the US help contribute to
regional and, in turn, global stability.
defense minister also warned of an “axis of evil” stretching from Iran to
his visit to the US, Liberman is also scheduled to meet with Vice President Mike
Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
trip is Liberman’s first official visit to the US since President Donald Trump
was inaugurated in January.