Dec 18, 2019

U.S. and Israeli national security advisers discuss unrest in Iran

Photo: Michael Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien met his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben Shabbat, today at the White House. According to a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting, they discussed the domestic unrest in Iran among other topics.

Why it matters: Israeli officials say there's now an opening — due to unrest inside Iran, anti-Iran protests in Iraq and demonstrations in Lebanon — to put even more pressure on Iran's government and weaken its regional influence.

“The two agreed to continue close coordination on countering Iran’s destabilizing influence and activities in the region, as well as monitoring the ramifications of unrest within Iran."
— From the joint statement, which also said they discussed Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and other regional issues.

O'Brien also told Ben Shabbat that "common interests between Israel and Arab states ... made new regional partnerships possible to counter Iran’s malign influence and create a more prosperous and peaceful future for all."

According to the statement, O’Brien and Ben Shabbat directed their respective teams to continue joint working groups in the months ahead in the areas of cyber, intelligence, and telecommunications security to counter the threats posed by Iran and other actors.  

Go deeper

Trump hits back at Mattis: "I gave him a new life"

President Trump speaks at the White House. Photo: Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump unloaded on his former defense secretary via Twitter on Wednesday, hours after James Mattis condemned him for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in his response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

What he's saying: "Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was 'Chaos', which I didn’t like, & changed it to 'Mad Dog'"

Obama praises young protesters, urges mayors to pursue police reforms

Former President Barack Obama called on all mayors to review their use-of-force policies and commit to policing reform in a virtual town hall Wednesday hosted by the Obama Foundation's My Brothers Keepers Alliance.

Why it matters: Obama has addressed the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed on social media and in a Medium post, but this was his first time speaking about the past week's events on camera. His voice will add weight to the growing pressure on local, state and federal officials to pursue policing reforms.

James Mattis condemns Trump as a threat to the Constitution

Mattis on Fox in Septemnber 2019 in New York City. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis condemned President Trump for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in a statement to The Atlantic on Wednesday, saying he was "appalled" at the president's response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

Why it matters: Trump’s former defense secretary had refrained from publicly criticizing his former boss since resigning in 2018.