THE MIDDLE EAST; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 185
(Senate - November 19, 2019)

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[Page S6632]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                            THE MIDDLE EAST

  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, on a final matter, I spoke yesterday 
about the courageous people of Hong Kong who are standing up to Beijing 
and speaking up for their freedoms. But Hongkongers are not alone in 
bravely speaking up at this time. The Middle East continues to be swept 
by widespread and cross-sectarian demonstrations.
  In Lebanon, in Iraq, and in Iran, millions are demanding a better 
future, greater justice, less corruption, and more democracy from their 
governments. These protests expand three countries. Each is unique, but 
one common thread connects them: Iran.
  For years, Iran has systematically sought to undermine the 
territorial integrity and manipulate the politics of countries all 
across the Middle East. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Lebanon 
and Iraq, where Iranian proxies have challenged the very sovereignty of 
the state.
  In Lebanon, Iran backs Hezbollah, the terrorist group that has become 
a dominant political player. Hezbollah has become a state within a 
state. Its weapons and fighters do not work to defend the Lebanese 
state but to embroil it in Syria's civil war and imperil its security 
by threatening Israel with precision rockets.
  In Iraq, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has spent years 
sponsoring Shia militias and proxies that are more loyal to Tehran than 
to Baghdad or to the people of Iraq.
  In both of these countries, Tehran has used and promoted the use of 
force to acquire power and to acquire influence. A few weeks ago, the 
leader of Iran's terrorist Quds Force reportedly flew to Iraq for 
secret meetings to guide Iraqi leaders through the protests there.
  Here is what this Iranian thug told the Iraqis: ``We in Iran know how 
to deal with protests.'' Enough said.
  Well, a violent crackdown on peaceful protesters is not going to 
resolve anything. What Iraqi and Lebanese leaders must do is stop 
listening to the poisonous advice of Iranian tyrants, who are losing 
their own grip on their own people, and start addressing their own 
citizens' demands for transparency and reform.
  Iraq and Lebanon should give their people what they want--less 
corruption, less malign foreign influence, more opportunity, and the 
rule of law.
  That is the path forward for Iraq and Lebanon. Commit to prosperity 
and pluralism at home, combat corruption and injustice within all sects 
and confessions, protect the sovereignty of your country, pursue peace 
with your neighbors, and enjoy support from the United States as well.
  I would note that in contrast to Hezbollah's thugs, Lebanon's Armed 
Forces by most accounts continue to be one of Lebanon's few 
institutions of national unity. The LAF has respected the rights of 
protesters, protected them from violence, and sought to deescalate 
tensions on the street.
  I know the U.S. military believes its training and partnership with 
the LAF is paying off, helping it to be a more professional and 
responsible security force.
  So while these events transpire in Iraq and Lebanon, the Iranian 
people themselves are also engaging in their own demonstrations. Iran 
used to be a moderate, open, and prosperous society. It could be again. 
Now tens of thousands of Iranian people themselves are raising their 
voices in righteous anger at what has become of their living conditions 
and their country. The Iranian people are feeling the pain inflicted by 
the brutality, selfishness, and extremism of their ruling class.
  The regime seems to be doing all it can to put a stop to this. 
Reports over the weekend indicated an enormous, unprecedented internet 
blackout aimed at keeping Iranians in the dark and suggests Iranian 
leaders are threatening yet another violent crackdown against their own 
citizens.
  But Iran's leaders know exactly what must be done to alter the course 
of their once-great country and unlock a better future for its 
citizens. Iran needs to stop pursuing nuclear weapons and long-range 
missile capabilities, stop supporting terror and cyber offensives, stop 
causing bloodshed to weaken its neighbors, and stop the horrific 
mistreatment of its own people.
  There is an entire civilized world full of diverse nations that get 
by just fine--just fine--without engaging in any of these rogue state 
activities. Iran engages in all of them. Iranian leaders will either 
listen to their own citizens and start behaving like a normal nation or 
they will be treated more and more like the backward pariahs they have 
become.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

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