Pompeo Turns Page on Obama’s Middle East Policies

Pompeo Turns Page on Obama’s Middle East Policies

Friday, 11 January, 2019 - 07:45
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to students at the American University Cairo, in the eastern suburb of New Cairo, east of the capital on 10 January, 2019. AFP
Cairo - Sawsan Abu Husain and Mohamed Abdu Hassanein
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a scathing rebuke of the Obama administration's Mideast policies on Thursday, accusing the former president of spreading chaos in the Middle East.

In a speech at the American University in Cairo, Pompeo held Barack Obama responsible for chaos after failing to confront radicals appropriately.

But the secretary did not mention Obama by name.

“He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed 'a new beginning.' The results of these misjudgments have been dire," said Pompeo about the former president.

Obama had given a speech in Cairo in 2009 in which he spoke of "a new beginning" for US relations with countries in the Arab and Muslim world.

Pompeo's speech came on the third leg of a nine-nation Mideast tour aimed at reassuring America's Arab partners that the Trump administration is not walking away from the region amid confusion and concern over plans to withdraw US forces from Syria.

“The Trump administration is also working to establish the Middle East Strategic Alliance to confront the region’s most serious threat and bolster energy and economic cooperation,” said Pompeo.

Airstrikes against ISIS in the region “will continue as targets arise,” he told the audience.

“It is important to know also that we will not ease our campaign to stop Iran’s malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world. The nations of the Middle East will never enjoy security, achieve economic stability, or advance the dreams of their people if Iran’s revolutionary regime persists on its current course,” he said.

Earlier, Pompeo met separately with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Shoukry, Pompeo said that the US remained a steadfast partner in the Middle East.

He stressed the troop pullout from Syria would go ahead, despite recent comments appearing to walk back on US President Donald Trump's decision, but said Washington would remain engaged.

"We will withdraw our forces, our uniformed forces, from Syria and continue America's crushing campaign," Pompeo said at the press conference.

On Thursday evening, the US official visited the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ and the Al-Fattah Al-Alim mosque in Egypt's New Administrative Capital, 45 kilometers east of the capital.

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