Mattis: Trump tweet made clear Iran is 'on the wrong track'

Mattis: Trump tweet made clear Iran is 'on the wrong track'
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pitches Goya Foods products on Twitter Sessions defends recusal: 'I leave elected office with my integrity intact' Former White House physician Ronny Jackson wins Texas runoff MORE’s unexpected threat against Iran earlier this week was meant to make clear to Tehran “that they’re on the wrong track,” Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet Budowsky: Biden-Duckworth would be America's team Trump insulted UK's May, called Germany's Merkel 'stupid' in calls: report MORE said Tuesday.

“I think what we have to look at is the destabilizing influence that Iran has consistently displayed and demonstrated throughout the region,” Mattis said at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, Calif.

Trump late Sunday surprised many when he issued an all-caps tweet directed at Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Mattis said he believes “the president was making very clear that they’re on the wrong track.” 

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“The only reason that the murderer [Syrian President Bashar] Assad is still in power — the primary reason — is because Iran has stuck by him, reinforced him, funded him,” said Mattis, who was in California to meet with Australian officials along with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS praises British ban on China's Huawei after pressure campaign Overnight Defense: Panel approves 4.6B bill addressing border wall funds, Confederate name changes | Navy ship fire rages on Trump says he has no plans to speak with Chinese president MORE.

“We see the same kind of malfeasance down in Yemen where they’re fomenting more violence down there. We’ve seen their disruptive capabilities demonstrated from Bahrain to the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia], and it’s time for Iran to shape up and show responsibility as a responsible nation.”

Iran has supported Houthi rebels against the Saudi-backed Yemeni government in a conflict that’s been going on for three years. The United States has also been supporting the Saudi campaign.

Mattis added: “[Iran] cannot continue to show irresponsibility as some revolutionary organization that is intent on exporting terrorism, exporting disruption across the region.”

Neither Mattis nor Pentagon spokespeople have said whether the military would be adjusting its forces in the region to deal with any fallout from Trump’s tweet, including bolstering protections.

Pentagon spokeswoman Rebecca Rebarich told The Hill Monday that U.S. forces “are more than capable at defending themselves should the need arise.”

Trump did not address his Sunday tweet during a Tuesday speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention.

The commander in chief did, however, tout his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal.