Defense Secretary Mattis defies Trump in call to preserve Iran deal

Posted October 04, 2017

An important component of the new US strategy in Afghanistan is a threat to withdraw aid and other support for Pakistan if the country continues to tolerate the presence of the Afghan Taliban and the allied Haqqani network, which are leading the insurgency against Afghan and USA forces.

Trump unveiled his new strategy for Afghanistan in August and said American troops would "fight to win" by attacking enemies, "crushing" al-Qaida, and preventing terrorist attacks against Americans. The additional troops will augment the roughly 8,400 Americans now stationed there.

The Senate Armed Services Committee "still does not know numerous crucial details of the strategy". More specifically, Mattis plans to visit Islamabad soon, he said.

"We want to be your partners", McCain said.

Indeed, several Republican lawmakers have voiced skepticism over the president's decertification strategy, including the GOP chairmen of the Senate and House foreign relations committees, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee and Rep. Ed Royce of California, as well as Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Tom Cotton of Arkansas. We must be well-informed.

US President Donald Trump boards airplane at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to depart for Puerto Rico on October 3, 2017.

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On Friday, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged Europe to defy United States sanctions if Trump's administration abandons the JCPOA. The increase will expand training of the Afghan military and beef up USA counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida and a growing Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, as well as the Taliban and other extremist groups. Trump's tough words about Pakistan, a troubled US security partner, infuriated Islamabad, which has denied the country provides safe havens for the Taliban.

Mattis, who just returned from his maiden trip to India, said, "We discussed ways to expand our collaboration to improve long-term regional stability and security".

Sen. Angus King of ME asked Mattis during a congressional hearing if he thinks it's in the national security interests of the United States to stay a part of the worldwide accord. Denying certification could lead the U.S.to reintroduce sanctions, which in turn could lead Iran to walk away from the deal or restart previously curtailed nuclear activities.

"It is clear to me that the ISI has connections with terrorist groups", Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Mattis and Dunford said that broadly, that will require the United States to build more support internationally to sway Pakistan from doing so.

Speaking at the conservative Hudson Institute in September, Hyten said "the facts are that Iran is operating under the agreements that we signed up for under the [Iran nuclear deal]".

"The president gave me more flexibility to deal with this issue", Mattis said.