Pompeo: Obama Made a Mess of the Mideast

Says policies led to rise of ISIS, problems with Iran
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 10, 2019 11:26 AM CST
Pompeo Offers Scathing Rebuke of Obama Mideast Policy
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, second left, meets with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo on Thursday.   (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool Photo via AP)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a scathing rebuke of the Obama administration's Mideast policies Thursday, denouncing the former president for "misguided" and "wishful" thinking that diminished America's role in the region, harmed its longtime friends, and emboldened its main foe: Iran. In a speech to Cairo's American University aimed at reassuring America's Arab partners in the wake of the US decision to withdraw forces from Syria, Pompeo accused Obama of being naive and timid when confronted with challenges posed by the revolts that convulsed the Middle East, including Egypt, beginning in 2011. Pompeo laid the blame notably on a vision outlined by President Obama in a speech he gave in Cairo in 2009 in which he spoke of "a new beginning" for US relations with countries in the Arab and Muslim world, the AP reports.

"He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from ideology. He told you 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East," Pompeo told an invited audience of Egyptian officials, foreign diplomats, and students, without mentioning Obama by name. "The results of these misjudgments have been dire." Pompeo blamed the previous administration's approach to the Mideast for the ills that consume it now, particularly the rise of ISIS in Iraq, and Syria and Iran's increasing assertiveness, which he said was a direct result of sanctions relief (since rescinded by the Trump administration) granted to it under the 2015 nuclear deal. He criticized Obama for ignoring the growth of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon to the detriment of Israel's security and not doing enough to push back on Iran-supported rebels in Yemen. (Pompeo also spoke about how "the age of self-inflicted American shame is over.")

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