Mike Pompeo delivers blistering critique of Barack Obama’s Middle East policies – Donald Trump’s America
In his speech Mr Pompeo also took aim at Iran promising to ‘expel every last Iranian boot’ from Syria. (AP: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has delivered a scathing rebuke of the Obama administration’s Middle East policies.
He denounced the former president for what he says was misguided and wishful thinking that diminished America’s role in the region, harmed its longtime friends and emboldened its main foe: Iran.
- Mr Pompeo accused Mr Obama of sowing chaos by failing to confront Islamist militants
- He announced “the age of self-inflicted American shame is over”
- Mr Obama supporters called Mr Pompeo’s speech petty and weak
“The good news is this … the age of self-inflicted American shame is over,” Mr Pompeo said in a speech to the American University in Cairo to an invited audience of Egyptian officials, foreign diplomats and students.
He accused Barack Obama of sowing chaos in the Middle East by failing to adequately confront Islamist militants, calling the former president naive and timid when confronted with challenges posed by the Middle East revolts of 2011.
“He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from ideology,” Mr Pompeo said, without mentioning Mr Obama by name.
“He told you 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed ‘a new beginning’. The results of these misjudgements have been dire.”
‘Expel every last Iranian boot’
Since Donald Trump’s election, however, Mr Pompeo said this was all changing.
In the speech entitled A Force for Good: America’s Reinvigorated Role in the Middle East, Mr Pompeo extolled the Trump administration’s actions across the region cementing ties with traditional, albeit authoritarian governments, taking on the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and imposing tough new sanctions on Iran.
Since withdrawing from the nuclear deal last year, the administration has steadily ratcheted up pressure on Tehran and routinely accuses the nation of being the most destabilising influence in the region.
Mr Pompeo’s speech came on the third leg of a nine-nation Middle East 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.
Mr Pompeo assured his audience the US will work with allies to “expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria.
He warned there would be no US reconstruction aid for areas controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad until Iran and its proxies had left.
‘Pot shots’ speak to Trump administration ‘pettiness’
Mr Pompeo’s speech in Cairo came on the third leg of a nine-nation Mideast tour. (AP: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)
In a rebuttal to the speech, a group of mainly former Obama administration foreign policy officials rejected Mr Pompeo’s assertions as petty and weak.
“That this administration feels the need, nearly a decade later, to take pot shots 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.
Iran’s Foreign Minister also mocked Mr Pompeo’s speech in which he said “when America retreats, chaos follows”, by asserting the opposite was true.
“Whenever/wherever US interferes, chaos, repression and resentment follow,” Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.
Mr Zarif said the day Iran “mimics Mr Pompeo’s ‘human rights models’ is the day hell freezes over”.
“Best for the US to just get over loss of Iran,” he wrote.