Pompeo repudiates Obama Mideast policy, takes aim at Iran

Elias Hubbard
January 10, 2019

He also told Pompeo that Israel should withdraw from the Golan Heights - a strategic area on the northern border with Syria that Jerusalem views as critical to its security.

It also comes weeks after President Donald Trump's abrupt announcement that he will pull all 2,000 USA troops from Syria, which caused alarm among USA allies in the region.

Pompeo's visit began as U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton was set to depart Turkey without meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - an apparent snub over disagreements about the Kurdish fighters in Syria. His abrupt decision led to the resignations of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Brett McGurk, special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat IS.

Ankara's operation against Kurdish-led forces in Syria doesn't hinge on a U.S. pull-out, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has warned.

Many Kurds are concerned that a USA pullout will make them vulnerable to assaults from Turkey and the remaining members of ISIS still in the region.

Their main message, the Turkish official said, was to stress their concerns for the safety of YPG fighters following the United States withdrawal, the Turkish official said. Recep Tayyip Ergodan considers the YPG to be a part of the PKK, a Kurdish separatist group that both Turkey and the U.S. consider to be a terrorist organization.

Instead, Erdogan went on television and chastised America's national security adviser.

Asked in Erbil if Erdogan's pushback on the protection of the Kurds puts the withdrawal at risk, Pompeo told reporters: "No".

The withdrawal of U.S. forces in Syria strengthens the hand both of Turkey and of the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, which is backed by Russian Federation and Iran.

"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. America's top diplomat also discussed ways of supporting Iraq's energy independence, an issue tied to the US effort to wean allies off Iranian energy sources. He also met with U.S. troops based in the country.

Pompeo met Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi as well as Iraq's foreign minister, parliament speaker and President Barham Salih, who said his country still needs US support in the fight against Islamic State militants.

US State Department officials have not confirmed the detention of an American teenager by the YPG in Syria.

But experts were quick to point out that the Islamic State had not been defeated.

Bolton has changed the terms of this decision dramatically since Trump announced it three weeks ago.

While IS fighters have been ousted from the major towns and cities they once held, fighting between US-backed forces and IS militants has continued in the Middle Euphrates River Valley with the U.S. continuing to launch regular air strikes in support of allied forces.

Pompeo said Trump's decision was final and USA would withdraw from Syria but Washington would not hesitate to strike if Assad regime used chemical weapons again.

Pompeo delivered a scathing rebuke of the Obama administration's Mideast policies on as he denounced the former president for "misguided" and "wishful" thinking that diminished America's role in the region, harmed its longtime friends and emboldened its main foe: Iran.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER