ABU DHABI—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), traveling with a bipartisan Congressional Delegation in the Middle East, delivered remarks today to the Emirates Diplomatic Academy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the threats from ISIS and radical Islamist terrorism, as well as ongoing aggression from Iran. Below are the Speaker’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you so much, Director Leon. It is great to be here with Ambassador Leaf, Ambassador Otaiba, Sheikha Lubna, Dr. Al Jaber, other distinguished guests, and all of you—budding diplomats who will serve your country well in the years to come.

“I am about to wrap up a visit to the region with a bipartisan Congressional Delegation.

“Before arriving here, we were in Saudi Arabia where we met with His Majesty King Salman and the Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman.

“We had excellent discussions on ways to continue strengthening our ties across a range of issues.

“And here in Abu Dhabi, we have a singular focus which is building on our common mission to defeat and degrade our adversaries.

“For too long, American leadership has been lacking in the Middle East. In that vacuum, others have filled the void.

“But that is changing. The way I see it, we do not have a choice but to lead. It is American leadership on the global stage that has kept the peace in this post-Cold War era. And it is that leadership, working with our allies and partners around the world, that is so desperately needed today.

“Back in Washington, we in Congress are working to provide the military with tools and resources that are required stay ahead of the challenges we face today.

“My top focus is ensuring that the Department of Defense, under the leadership of Secretary Mattis, is second to none.

“So through that lens, I want to outline two things that we’ve been talking about on this trip that are essential to advancing our mutual interests.

“First, we must continue stepping up the fight against ISIS.

“There is no question that this administration inherited a fight against ISIS that was not being fought as aggressively as it could have.

“Secretary Mattis was determined to get after it from day one. We have made tremendous strides in the fight against ISIS, but we also know that their objectives are not limited to territorial gains.

“They seek to inflict death and destruction on the United States and our allies by any means necessary. We have learned this the hard way. From Orlando and New York to San Bernardino, radical Islamist extremism continues to invest heavily in inspiring terrorist attacks on our soil. We cannot take our eye off the ball.

“At the same time, we know that al-Qaeda is not—and was not—fully defeated. They have made significant gains around the world through their affiliates. In the wake of bin Laden’s death, they have grown, rebuilt, and decentralized their operations. This serves as an ongoing reminder that the battle against Islamist extremism does not end with the defeat of ISIS.

“Of course, this is not new to you here in the Emirates. You fight this battle every single day against al-Qaeda in Yemen, so you understand first hand why we must take these threats so seriously.

“So rest assured, we will not stop until ISIS, al-Qaeda, and their affiliates are defeated and no longer a threat to the United States and our allies.

“Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, we are focused on the Iranian threat to regional stability.

“This is an existential threat to you and it is an existential threat to Saudi Arabia—I want you to know that we see it exactly the same way that you do.

“Of course, we have all been watching the recent protests in Iran, which is further proof that the regime has firmly turned all segments of Iranian society against it. To those of us who follow this regularly and understands how this regime operates, this does not come as a surprise.

“But it is noteworthy and worth emphasizing—the regime is losing its stranglehold on the population.

“When it comes to supporting peaceful protests against the tyrannical regime in Tehran, we need to be unequivocal. That is why we in the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution backing the Iranian people in their pursuit of justice, freedom, and opportunity.

“Let me be clear: The Congress will not repeat the mistakes of the past and we will not remain silent about the plight of the Iranian people who have faced brutal repression at the hands of the regime in Tehran.

“The Trump administration’s comprehensive Iran strategy seeks to hold the regime accountable for its litany of destructive activities—and more importantly, is taking concrete steps to roll back Iranian expansion. Now we all need to work together to implement this strategy.

“That means stopping the Revolutionary Guard Corps’ quest to establish new Hezbollah-like terrorist organizations in the region.

“That means preventing the regime from securing a reliable land bridge from Tehran to Beirut.

“To effectively combat these threats, we need to leverage our economic relationships to squeeze the regime in Tehran and make it more difficult to fund these activities. And we need to work with our allies, particularly our allies in the region, to leverage each of our unique skill sets and expertise.

“So those are the two main issues that our delegation has been focused on during our trip.

“There is no question that we have our work cut out for us.

“These threats are real and they are evolving at a rapid pace. But I know that if we redouble our efforts to work together to combat these threats, we will ultimately be successful.

“We should never underestimate the power and potential of strong American leadership.

“So on behalf of my colleagues, I want to express how grateful we are to have such staunch allies here in the Emirates. And thank you again for being here. I look forward to our conversation.”