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Mike Pompeo seeks to rally Mideast allies on Iran, jihadist battle

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 09 January 2019, 08:04 AM
Pompeo has repeatedly called Iran
Pompeo has repeatedly called Iran "the world's largest state sponsor of terror," pointing to its targeting of domestic rivals in Europe and support of militant movements such as Lebanon's Hezbollah

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Middle East allies on Tuesday to confront "significant threats" posed by Iran and jihadists as he visited a region shaken by Washington's surprise decision to withdraw from Syria. The top US diplomat, in Jordan on the first leg of his longest trip since taking the post last year, said that the US troop pullout would not undermine the battle against the Islamic State group. "The most significant threats to the region are Daesh and the Islamic revolution," Pompeo said at a news conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, referring to IS and Iran. Pompeo has repeatedly called Iran "the world's largest state sponsor of terror," pointing to its targeting of domestic rivals in Europe and support of militant movements such as Lebanon's Hezbollah.

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Sustaining a regional coalition to counter Iran, the main enemy of US allies Saudi Arabia and Israel, is a major focus of Pompeo's tour of eight Arab capitals in as many days.

"The counter Iran revolution is a coalition as effective today as it was yesterday and I'm very hopeful that it will continue to be effective and even more effective tomorrow," he said.

"You'll see in the coming days and weeks we are redoubling all our diplomatic and commercial efforts to put real pressure on Iran".

Earlier, Donald Trump surprised the world and his country as well when he suddenly announced that the US is pulling out its troops from Syria. "In Syria, Erdogan said he wants to knock out ISIS, whatever's left, the remnants of ISIS. And Saudi Arabia just came out and said they are going to pay for some economic development. Which is great, that means we don't have to pay. We are spread out all over the world. We are in countries most people haven't even heard about. Frankly, it's ridiculous," Trump added.

Trump's sudden decision sparked turmoil in his administration, prompting the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, as well as of Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the anti-IS coalition.

Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the global coalition fighting the Islamic State group, resigned in protest over President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, a US official said, joining Defence Secretary Jim Mattis in an administration exodus of experienced national security figures.

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McGurk had said it would be "reckless" to consider IS defeated and therefore would be unwise to bring American forces home. McGurk decided to speed up his original plan to leave his post in mid-February. Appointed to the post by President Barack Obama in 2015 and retained by Trump, McGurk said in his resignation letter that the militants were on the run, but not yet defeated, and that the premature pullout of American forces from Syria would create the conditions that gave rise to IS.

First Published: Wednesday, January 09, 2019 08:04 AM
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