Good evening. Good evening.
I'd like to talk briefly about something that I have personal experience in, that has been mentioned today but I believe deserves deeper consideration. And that is Iran's meddling in and destabilizing its neighbors.
You know, last Sunday, our Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was asked by a journalist what is the U.S. goal with respect to Iran. And here's what he said. He said our goal is to push Iran to act like a normal count.ry. To act like a normal country. He said, don't support terrorism, don't launch missiles into international airports, and don't be the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism. He went on to say none of these things are difficult. We’re asking them to do the things that normal nations in the international community should do. That sounds simple, doesn't it?
Yet today Iran, through its terrorists arm, the Quds force, continues to support terrorism and destabilize not only its neighbors but the entire region. And that's not normal behavior. And I firmly believe that no government that actively supports exports of terror can be a productive player in the world today. Change must come to Iran.
And I said, direct experience here from our time in Iraq, many of us, in the US military, have seen firsthand how Iran uses terrorism to accomplish its political objectives. And, as coalition commander, I certainly saw that in Iraq when the regime used terrorism to foment sectarian violence and to frustrate the goals of the United States and Iraqis to establish a representative democracy.
The approach that they used is three prong. They bought political support through political contributions to Iraqi political leaders and political groups. They bought public support through economic support to communities in the southern part of the country. And they fostered sectarian violence by providing, training and equipment to the Shia militia organizations. By mid-2006, I can tell you there was no question that they were doing this, and I firmly believe that Iran bears responsibility because their training and equipping of the Iraqi militia groups was a major factor in sustaining the sectarian violence that swept Iraq in 2006 and 2007. And to me that makes Iran directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of coalition forces and thousands of Iraqis
You might ask, how I can be so sure about that. In 2006 my forces captured six Quds force operatives in an operation cell in Baghdad that they shared with the Shia militia group. And on the wall were maps of Baghdad that showed their operational plans for forced population movements purely for sectarian purposes. And there were Ledgers, many books of the weapons transfers that came in and out of there, and we had caught them red-handed in supporting sectarian violence and terrorism in one of their neighboring countries. That’s not what normal countries do.
As I look back on that, now I say that was 12 years ago, and today they are still destabilizing the region. I can only come to one conclusion that change must come to Iran before Iran can behave as a normal country.