Pompeo takes anti-Iran message to gulf states
CAIRO — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brought the Trump administration’s anti-Iran message to Persian Gulf Arab states on Friday, arriving in Bahrain to continue a nine-nation tour of the Middle East aimed at reassuring America’s partners that withdrawing troops from Syria does not mean Washington is abandoning the region.
In Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, Pompeo will call for increasing pressure on Iran and push for unity among Gulf neighbors still embroiled in a festering dispute with Qatar. He’ll also be promoting a U.S.backed initiative to form what some have termed an “Arab NATO” that would bring the region together in a military alliance to counter threats from Iran.
In Bahrain, the UAE and later Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait, Pompeo also will be making the case as he did in Jordan, Iraq and Egypt that President Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria is not a sign Washington is retreating from the fight against the Islamic State.
U.S. partnerships with the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council “are critical to achieving shared regional objectives: defeating ISIS, countering radical Islamic terrorism, protecting global energy supplies, and rolling back Iranian aggression,” the State Department said in a statement released as Pompeo departed Egypt for Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.
At each of his stops in the Gulf, Pompeo will be urging progress on creating the Middle East Strategic Alliance, which would join GCC militaries with those of Egypt and Jordan to serve as a counter-balance to Iran, which they all accuse of fomenting unrest and rebellion throughout the region
Pompeo told Fox News that there would be an international conference on Iran and the Middle East in Poland on Feb. 13-14.
Matthew Lee is an Associated Press writer.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (center) is greeted by Bahraini officials upon arrival in Manama.