Mike Pompeo Is Flying Solo in the Middle East

10 January, 2019, 23:32 | Author: Emmett Rice
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"There's no change in our counter-Iran strategy", Pompeo said in an interview on Monday with CNBC.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for regional unity against Iran on Thursday during a speech in Cairo, one of several stops on his regional tour to reassure allies following President Donald Trump's surprise announcement of a US withdrawal from Syria. That's a low bar, of course, considering that the other players include Iran, Russia, Assad, and ISIS (or its successors and rival jihadists).

In his address entitled "A Force for Good: America Reinvigorated in the Middle East" at the American University in Cairo, Pompeo also took aim at former president Barack Obama without naming him.

This week, top administration officials are busy travelling the Middle East in a grand effort to ensure Washington's friends that the U.S. remains committed to defeating the so-called Islamic State (Daesh), pushing back against Iran, and protecting American allies.

The same Arab source said that Egypt, recently expanding the scope of its ties with Syria, has been consulting with Kuwait to start the diplomatic momentum to re-integrate Syria back into the Arab fold.

The comments raised eyebrows in the United States and overseas not the least because Trump himself is being criticized for his ambiguous plan announced last month to pull USA troops out of Syria.

Administration officials so far do not have a plan for what to do with the prisoners, according to a separate United States official, who said that few countries have been willing to accept any of their captured citizens.

One Cairo-based foreign diplomat informed on the highlights of Bolton's talks in the Middle East this week said that the U.S. national security adviser had assured his interlocutors that the USA would neither risk the stability of Syria nor allow for a situation that could endanger their interests. "Last year alone 40,000 people were killed in Afghanistan, a war that has gone on now for 17, 18 years", Bishara said.

He went on to list a sequence of crises in the Middle East - some of which have roots that predate the Obama administration - citing the explosive growth of ISIS, Syria's killing of its own citizens, Iran's moves to expand its influence, and Hezbollah's stockpiling of rockets.

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Bolton went "rogue" and "a soft coup against Trump is underway in the United States", an editorial in Turkey's pro-government Daily Sabah claimed this week, citing attempts by USA officials to force Trump to retreat on the withdrawal.

After visiting Erbil, the center of Iraq's Kurdish population, Pompeo said Erdogan understands that the U.S. When we neglect our friends, resentment builds.

USA support for Israel and Saudi Arabia - two of Iran's biggest rivals in the region - has added to the bad blood.

While Obama administration made the landmark nuclear deal with Iran a priority, the Trump administration is taking the opposite approach, Al Jazeera's Bishara said. Though orders have been given to the USA military to begin preparing for withdrawal, troops will carry out operations against the militant group as they leave.

The day Iran mimics USA clients and Secretary Pompeo's "human rights models" - be it the Shah or current butchers - to become a "normal" country is the day hell freezes over. The occupied Palestinian territories weren't mentioned at all, Bishara noted.

"ISIS is defeated militarily but the mission is not accomplished", Salih said, using an acronym for Islamic State. "Now comes the real new beginning".

Former Obama administration officials rejected Pompeo's assertions as petty, political and weak.

Pompeo's speech came on the third leg of a nine-nation Mideast tour aimed at reassuring USA allies against threats from Iran and and ISIL.

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