Pompeo Calls Obama’s Mideast Policy Misguided

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In the region, the Syrian decision has created a diplomatic tangle with Turkey and, since the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis over the Syria announcement.

 
 
Declan Walsh
c.2019 New York Times News Service
CAIRO — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scathingly repudiated President Barack Obama’s approach to the Middle East on Thursday, using a speech in Cairo to reject what he called the previous administration’s timidity toward Islamic extremism and misguided outreach to Iran.
 
A decade after Obama delivered a landmark speech, also in Cairo, that offered an olive branch to Iran and urged autocrats to permit greater freedoms, Pompeo offered his own reset, based on unquestioned U.S. leadership and an alliance of Arab authoritarians to counter Iran.
 
The United States will use those alliances “to expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria, he said.
 
Pompeo’s assertion of U.S. purpose in the Middle East comes at a moment when Washington’s will to lead has been widely questioned.
 
President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement, issued via Twitter on Dec. 19, that he planned to withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria caused consternation. So far in Pompeo’s nine-nation tour of the region that started Tuesday, he has had to reassure jittery nations about the pace of that withdrawal.
 
In the region, the Syrian decision has created a diplomatic tangle with Turkey and, since the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis over the Syria announcement, has led to fears among allies that Trump is not on the same page as his national security team.