U.S. is ‘a force for good in the Middle East,’ Pompeo says

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo affirmed America’s commitment to its partners in the Middle East and urged them to take on more responsibilities for eradicating radical Islamic terrorism and countering Iran’s malign activities.

In a major address at the century-old American University in Cairo on January 10, Pompeo said the Trump administration’s approach is strengthening those partnerships.

But “our work together is not finished. It’s almost never America’s work alone,” said the secretary.

“Our aim is to partner with our friends and vigorously oppose our enemies, because a strong, secure, and economically vibrant Middle East is in our national interest and it’s in yours as well,” he said.

While the United States will bring home troops from Syria, “this isn’t a change of mission,” he said. “We remain committed to the complete dismantling of the ISIS threat and the ongoing fight against radical Islamist terror. … We are looking to our partners to do more going forward.”

“We ask every peace-loving nation of the Middle East to shoulder new responsibilities for defeating Islamic extremism wherever we find it,” he said.

He cautioned that “the nations of the Middle East will never enjoy security, achieve economic stability or advance the dreams of their people if Iran’s revolutionary regime persists on its current course.”

“Nations are rallying to our side to confront the Iranian regime’s revolutionary agenda like never before: Cutting Iran’s oil imports to zero, thwarting sanctions evasion, countering terrorism in Europe, and isolating Iran’s corrupt banking system,” Pompeo said. Sanctions  “will keep getting tougher until Iran starts behaving like a normal country.”

He said the United States has always been “a force for good in the Middle East.”

In World War II, America helped free North Africa from Nazi occupation, the secretary said. “Fifty years later, we assembled a coalition to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. And now 99 percent of the territory ISIS once held is liberated” and thousands of lives have been saved.

The Trump administration will “continue to press for a real and lasting peace between Israel and Palestinians,” he said.

The speech came after Pompeo met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. He reiterated the U.S. commitment to their strategic partnership and thanked Sisi for his leadership in advancing religious tolerance. Pompeo also emphasized the importance of protecting human rights.

Pompeo conferred earlier in his trip with leaders in Jordan and Iraq. His January 8-15 visit to the Middle East will take him next to Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait.