CAIRO — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a scathing rebuke of the Obama administration’s Mideast insurance policies on Thursday as he denounced the previous president for “misguided” and “wishful” considering that diminished America’s position within the area, harmed its longtime buddies and emboldened its most important foe: Iran.
In a speech to the American College in Cairo, Pompeo unloaded on US President Donald Trump’s predecessor for being naive and timid when confronted with challenges posed by the revolts that convulsed the Center East, together with Egypt, starting in 2011. Pompeo laid the blame notably on a imaginative and prescient outlined by President Barack Obama in a speech he gave in Cairo in 2009 during which he spoke of “a new beginning” for US relations with nations within the Arab and Muslim world.
“Remember: It was here, here in this very city, another American stood before you,” Pompeo advised an invited viewers of Egyptian officers, overseas diplomats and college students. “He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from ideology. He told you 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed ‘a new beginning.’ The results of these misjudgments have been dire.”
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“In falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East, we were timid about asserting ourselves when the times — and our partners — demanded it,” Pompeo stated, with out mentioning the previous president by identify.
Pompeo blamed the earlier administration’s strategy to the Mideast for the ills that eat it now, notably the rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and Iran’s growing assertiveness, which he stated was a direct outcome of sanctions aid, since rescinded by the Trump administration, granted to it beneath the 2015 nuclear deal.
He criticized Obama for ignoring the expansion of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon to the detriment of Israel’s safety and never doing sufficient to push again on Iran-supported rebels in Yemen.
“America’s penchant for wishful thinking led us to look the other way as Hezbollah, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Iranian regime, accumulated a massive arsenal of approximately 130,000 rockets and missiles,” he says throughout a speech in Cairo.
“That arsenal is aimed squarely at our ally Israel.”
Since Trump’s election, nevertheless, Pompeo stated this was all altering.
“The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering,” he stated. “Now comes the real ‘new beginning.’ In just 24 months, actually less than two years, the United States under President Trump has reasserted its traditional role as a force for good in this region, because we’ve learned from our mistakes. We have rediscovered our voice. We have rebuilt our relationships. We have rejected false overtures from enemies.”
Within the speech entitled “A Force for Good: America’s Reinvigorated Role in the Middle East,” Pompeo extolled the Trump administration’s actions throughout the area cementing ties with conventional, albeit authoritarian governments, taking over the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and imposing robust new sanctions on Iran.
“President Trump has reversed our willful blindness to the danger of the regime and withdrew from the failed nuclear deal, with its false promises,” Pompeo stated. “Countries increasingly understand that we must confront the ayatollahs, not coddle them.”
Pompeo stated the US would guarantee Israel has the army capability to “defend itself against the Iranian regime’s aggressive adventurism.”
He stated that “In Lebanon, Hezbollah remains a major presence, but we won’t accept this status quo. Our aggressive sanctions campaign against Iran is also directed at the terror group and its leaders.”
Pompeo additionally welcomed Israel’s warming ties with Arab Gulf states as “old rivalries” are put apart to confront Tehran.
“New bonds are taking root that were unimaginable until very recently,” he stated, pointing to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s journey final yr to the sultanate of Oman, a rustic with which Israel has no formal ties.
Pompeo additionally famous a judo competitors in Abu Dhabi the place for the primary time Israeli athletes have been in a position to compete underneath the Israeli flag.
“It was also the first time an Israeli culture and sports minister attended a sports event in the Gulf. She said, and I quote: ‘It is a dream come true,’” he stated, quoting Miri Regev’s response to the enjoying of the Israeli nationwide anthem.
Since withdrawing from the nuclear cope with Iran final yr, the US administration has steadily ratcheted up strain on Tehran and routinely accuses the nation of being probably the most destabilizing affect within the area. It has vowed to improve the strain till Iran halts what US officers describe as its “malign activities” all through the Mideast and elsewhere, together with help for rebels in Yemen, anti-Israel teams and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“The nations of the Middle East will never enjoy security, achieve economic stability, or advance the dreams of its peoples if Iran’s revolutionary regime persists on its current course,” Pompeo stated.
Iran’s prime diplomat dismissed Pompeo’s accusations. Overseas Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that US interventions within the area trigger solely “chaos, repression and resentment.
“The day Iran mimics US clients [and Pompeo’s] ‘human rights models’ — be it the Shah or current butchers — to become a ‘normal’ country is the day hell freezes over.”
Each time/wherever US interferes, chaos, repression & resentment comply with. The day Iran mimics US shoppers & @SecPompeo’s “human rights models”—be it the Shah or current butchers—to become a “normal” nation is the day hell freezes over. Greatest for the US to simply recover from loss of Iran.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 10, 2019
Pompeo’s speech got here on the third leg of a nine-nation Mideast tour aimed toward reassuring America’s Arab companions that the Trump administration isn’t strolling away from the area amid confusion and concern over plans to withdraw US forces from Syria.
The secretary careworn the troop pullout from Syria would go forward, regardless of feedback in current weeks showing to stroll again Trump’s choice, however stated that the US would stay engaged.
Reside now! Watch @SecPompeo ship remarks on “A Force for Good: America Reinvigorated in the Middle East,” on the @AUC in Cairo, Egypt. https://t.co/0fCyZLYcfO
— Division of State (@StateDept) January 10, 2019
The “decision to withdraw our troops has been made. We will do that. We will withdraw our forces, our uniformed forces, from Syria and continue America’s crushing campaign,” Pompeo advised reporters.
America “will use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria and bolster efforts “to bring peace and stability to the long-suffering Syrian people,” he added.
Earlier in Cairo, he met with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Overseas Minister Sameh Shoukry to talk about safety and financial cooperation.
Trump has boasted of his shut relationship with Sissi, a former basic who has been criticized for his human rights document and democratic shortcomings. The Trump administration has resumed weapons gross sales to Egypt that had been suspended over human rights considerations, together with the jailing of a number of Americans on what US officers say are false fees.
At a quick information convention with Shoukry, Pompeo stated he raised human rights with each Sissi and Shoukry and reminded them that “open and honest public debates are a hallmark of a thriving society.” He stated he mentioned a “panoply” of rights considerations, together with the detention of political prisoners however gave no specifics.
Shortly earlier than Pompeo arrived, the State Division famous enhancements in Egypt’s human rights report. It welcomed the current acquittal of staff of American civil society teams who had been “wrongly convicted of improperly operating in Egypt” and stated the US helps Sissi’s pledges “to amend Egyptian law to prevent future miscarriages of justice.” On Wednesday, nevertheless, an Egyptian courtroom sentenced a number one activist behind the nation’s 2011 rebellion to 15 years in jail after convicting him of participating in clashes between protesters and safety forces later that yr.
In a rebuttal to the speech, a gaggle of primarily former Obama administration overseas coverage officers rejected Pompeo’s assertions as petty and weak.
“That this administration feels the need, nearly a decade later, to take potshots at an effort to identify common ground between the Arab world and the West speaks not only to the Trump administration’s pettiness but also to its lack of a strategic vision for America’s role in the region and its abdication of America’s values,” the Nationwide Safety Motion group stated in a press release.
Washington-based Human Rights First slammed Pompeo’s speech, saying it “doubled-down on blanket US support for the authoritarian regimes that have driven decades of instability in the Middle East.”
Brian Dooley, the group’s senior advisor, stated Pompeo failed to point out that Saudi Arabia’s conflict in Yemen “repeatedly violated international law” and brushed apart the Egyptian authorities’s “targeting of human rights activists, or of how torture in jails is driving prisoners into the arms of ISIS.”
Obama’s longtime aide Ben Rhodes additionally lambasted Pompeo for giving a speech he stated “no one will remember next week” in contrast to Obama’s tackle.
“By most accounts, Trump’s Middle East policy has made a messy Middle East even messier,” Aaron David Miller, a former US diplomat and now an analyst on the Wilson Middle, stated on Twitter.
“A risk averse president who makes new policy by tweet or phone call surrounded by risk-ready advisers who run cleanup, don’t respect deliberation and have objectives that aren’t clear or attainable equals US policy (or lack of it) in Syria.”
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