US Secretary of State lauds Sisi efforts to combat extremism
Friday، 11 January 2019 - 10:25 AM
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lauded the efforts exerted by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to combat extremism, thanking Sisi for his "courage".
Pompeo's statements came during a speech at the headquarters of the American University in Cairo (AUC) in the presence of Egyptian minister of higher education and scientific research.
Pompeo asserted that the US under President Donald Trump is committed to bringing about peace, stability, security and prosperity in the Middle East.
Pompeo said “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.”
He blamed the previous US administration’s approach to the Mideast for the ills that consume it now, particularly the rise of the Daesh group in Iraq and Syria and Iran’s increasing assertiveness, which he said was a direct result of sanctions relief, since rescinded by the Trump administration, granted to it under the 2015 nuclear deal, the Washington Post reported.
He criticized former US president Barack Obama for ignoring the growth of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon to the detriment of Israel’s security and not doing enough to push back on Iran-supported rebels in Yemen.
He said “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”. “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.”
In the speech entitled “A Force for Good: America’s Reinvigorated Role in the Middle East,” Pompeo extolled the Trump administration’s actions across the region.
“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 said.
Since withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran last year, the administration has steadily ratcheted up pressure on Tehran and routinely accuses the nation of being the most destabilizing influence in the region. It has vowed to increase the pressure until Iran halts what US officials describe as its “malign activities” throughout the Mideast and elsewhere, including support for rebels in Yemen, anti-Israel groups 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 said.
In a rebuttal to the speech, a group of mainly former Obama administration foreign policy officials 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 National Security Action group said in a statement.
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 US secretary of state said Washington is currently having some 5,000 soldiers in Iraq, compared to 166,000 personnel before.
Pompeo noted that the US establishes offshore military bases when it is asked to do so by the host country, like what has happened in the cases of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey and the UAE.
Meanwhile, he said US President Donald Trump authorized field commanders to strike Daesh in a quicker and more powerful way.
In this regard, Pompeo said about 99 percent of Daesh-held areas have been liberated and life was back to normal to millions of Iraqis and Syrians.
Since 2014, the US has offered around $2.4 billion in humanitarian assistance to Iraq, he said, adding that a sum of $30 billion was raised during the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, held in February 2018.
In Yemen, we help our allies in the Arab coalition to prevent the Iranian expansion in the region, which would have catastrophic influence on global trade and regional security, Pompeo said.
He also referred to his country's support to the UN-led negotiations to establish peace in Yemen.
Recognizing Hezbollah's sway in Lebanon, Pompeo stressed that the US will not accept it as a fait accompli noting that heavy sanctions the US launched against Iran are also targeted at this terrorist group and its leaders.
Pompeo further said that the US is currently seeking to foster a peaceful dialogue with the government of Iraq adding that it is high time to put an end to old disputes to serve the greater good of this region.
Furthermore, Pompeo hailed the US fruitful relationship with Middle Eastern countries for hundreds of years, saying that the Trump administration is currently working for establishing a Middle Eastern strategic alliance to confront the most critical challenges across the region and boost cooperation in energy and economic sectors.
During his speech at the American University in Cairo, Pompeo declared that "America will not retreat until the terror fight is over," but acknowledged that President Donald Trump "has made the decision to bring our troops home from Syria."
"We always do and now is the time. But this isn’t a change of mission," he said. "We remain committed to the complete dismantling of the ISIS threat," ABC News quoted the top US diplomat as saying.
Pompeo's address came one day after his surprise visit to Iraq and in the midst of a whirlwind tour of the Middle East in which he is reassuring partners of America's presence in the region following Trump's decision three weeks ago to withdraw 2,000 US troops from Syria.
“The nations of the Middle East will never enjoy security, achieve economic stability, or advance the dreams of their peoples if Iran’s revolutionary regime persists on its current course,” the US secretary of state said.
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,” Pompeo added.
“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 said during his speech in Cairo.
“That arsenal is aimed squarely at our ally Israel,” he added
Pompeo further said the US would ensure Israel has the military capacity to “defend itself against the Iranian regime’s aggressive adventurism.”
Pompeo concluded his speech by praising Sisi's efforts to support religious freedoms, which set a good example to all the countries across the region.