Obama 311 .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama had tough words for Iran and Syria in his
State of the Union address Tuesday night.
“Let there be no doubt: America
is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no
options off the table to achieve that goal,” Obama said to sustained
Obama flaunts record on Israel, Iran
Netanyahu, Obama talk Mideast peace, Iran
He said that currently, “The regime is more isolated than ever
before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they
shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent.”
president did, however, leave the door open for diplomacy, saying that, “A
peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran
changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of
His words were more hawkish than one year ago, where his brief
reference to Iran focused only on the American diplomatic effort.
Before turning to Syria, he mentioned Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who met his
end at the hands of his own citizens, who were angered at his
“Gaddafi was one of the world’s longest-serving dictators – a
murderer with American blood on his hands,” Obama said. “Today, he is gone. And
in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the
forces of change cannot be reversed, and that human dignity cannot be
Obama’s remarks on Iran and Syria earned him two of the few
standing ovations in which both Republicans and Democrats joined in. His speech
focused almost entirely on domestic issues over which there is a deep partisan
divide, including taxes, education spending and defense budget
After tackling trade issues with China early in his speech, Obama
substantively addressed the Middle East around the 55- minute mark. He devoted
more time to that region in his one hour and 16 minute speech than any other,
touching on the withdrawal from Iraq, Gaddafi’s death, the Arab Spring and the
US’s relationship with Israel.
“Our ironclad commitment – and I mean
ironclad – to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation
between our two countries in history,” he said to applause.
alluded more than once to the successful operation to assassinate Osama bin
Laden, which he authorized last spring. He stressed that America would continue
to pursue al-Qaida, and argued that ending the Iraq war and winding down the war
in Afghanistan would aid in that effort.
“Ending the Iraq war has allowed
us to strike decisive blows against our enemies,” he said. “From Pakistan to
Yemen, the al-Qaida operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they
can’t escape the reach of the United States of America.”
He pledged that
the winding down of military action in Afghanistan would continue with a large
withdrawal of 23,000 troops this summer.
“This transition to Afghan lead
will continue, and we will build an enduring partnership with Afghanistan, so
that it is never again a source of attacks against America,” he
Obama’s words on Iran were echoed by his Israel envoy, Dan
Shapiro, on Wednesday.
Shapiro told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee, which he was addressing for the first time, that all options
are on the table in dealing with Iran.
He also said that the US is
working “day by day” to intensify sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and central
At the same time, he added in the closed meeting, the US will still
consider other courses of action.Lahav Harkov contributed to this