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Ashkenazi: Curb Iran’s radical influence

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Iran is the source of radicalization sweeping the Middle East and must be stopped, Israel’s top general said during a visit to Washington.

“We are witnessing, I believe, a paradigmatic change in the Middle East in which radical countries and elements are trying to install a new order to replace the traditional national, secular one that exists today,” Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, on his first working trip to the United States, said in a speech Wednesday at the Israeli Embassy.

“At the center of this radical axis is Iran, who seeks to achieve its regional aspiration of hegemony by upsetting the existing balance of power,” he added, citing Tehran’s nuclear program and support for terrorist groups in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Iraq.

“I believe it is therefore crucial that we block Iranian aggression, which may in turn weaken the radicalization process,” Ashkenazi said.

He made no mention in the speech of the possibility of Israel or the United States attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities preemptively. But Israeli media quoted the general as saying in off-the-record briefings that the “military option” must remain available.

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