US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed yesterday the United States and its allies would work diplomatically to expel all Iranian troops from Syria, urging Middle East nations to forge a common stand against Tehran. America “will use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria and bolster efforts “to bring peace and stability to the long-suffering Syrian people,” Pompeo at a keynote address in Cairo.
The top US diplomat was in Egypt on the latest leg of a regional tour aimed at shoring up Washington’s Middle East policy following President Donald Trump’s shock decision to withdraw 2,000 US troops from Syria. In his speech at the American University in Cairo, Pompeo said the US is creating an anti-Iran front -- the Middle East Strategic Alliance -- bringing together Gulf countries as well as Egypt and Jordan.
Pompeo said the US would ensure Israel has the military capacity to “defend itself against the Iranian regime’s aggressive adventurism.” He stressed the troop pullout from Syria would go ahead, despite comments in recent weeks appearing to walk back Trump’s decision, but said that the US would remain engaged. The “decision to withdraw our troops has been made. We will do that. We will withdraw our forces, our uniformed forces, from Syria and continue America’s crushing campaign,” Pompeo told reporters at a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukry.
He also met earlier with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, after arriving in Cairo late Wednesday on his longest trip since taking office last year which has already taken him to Jordan, Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital Arbil. The tour will also take Pompeo to Gulf countries including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. As he arrived in Egypt, the State Department described the country as a “steadfast partner in the anti-terror fight, and a courageous voice in denouncing the radical Islamist ideology that fuels it”.
Pompeo’s tour is aimed at urging regional allies to continue to confront the “significant threats” posed by Iran and Islamic State group (IS) jihadists.