WASHINGTON — In his first visit to Israel as US secretary of defense, Ash Carter is flagging threats posed by Iran and the Islamic State, while his host, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, is focusing pretty much exclusively on Iran.
In meetings Monday in Tel Aviv followed by a joint tour of Israel’s northern border with Syria and Jordan, both men stressed the need to fortify bilateral strategic cooperation against extremism and aggression.
But while Ya’alon today exhorted against “the evil powers” led by “the merciless terror regime of Iran,” his counterpart vowed to counter “violent extremism in the region, including especially ISIL.”
Even prior to landing in Israel Sunday, Carter told the Pentagon’s traveling press corps that his trip would focus on Iran, “but also on ISIL, the two principal security challenges the US and its friends and allies face in the region.”
According to a readout of the airborne press conference en route to Tel Aviv, Carter insisted last week’s nuclear deal between Iran and world powers places no limitations on what Washington “can and will do with our friends and allies to carry out our strategy in the region.”
Carter told reporters a so-called military option is an inherent part of Washington’s regional strategy.