‘Greatest Threat of All in the Middle East’: Pompeo Pinpoints Top Foe, Calms Fears Among US Allies



January 10, 2019 1:52 pm Published by

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Egyptian leaders in Cairo Thursday. It’s the latest stop in his nine-nation tour of America’s Arab allies in the Middle East.  

The “Pompeo Arab Allies Tour” follows the uproar over President Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria and is intended to reassure America’s allies that the US is still standing with them, especially in the fight against Iran.

Pompeo met with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to discuss security and economic objectives. He said their meeting was “productive.”

“I had a productive meeting with @AlsisiOfficial in Cairo today. The US stands firmly with #Egypt in its commitments to protecting #religiousfreedom and in the fight against terrorism that threatens all of our friends in the Middle East,” Pompeo posted on Twitter. 

“The US-#Egypt relationship is one of our deepest and broadest partnerships in the region,” Pompeo said in an earlier Tweet. 

The secretary of state is also delivering a speech Thursday about how the US will partner with Egypt and the broader Middle East to fight Iranian aggression in the region. He said during a brief news conference with Foreign Minister Shoukry that Iran is the “greatest threat of all in the Middle East.”

Pompeo made a surprise visit to Iraq on Wednesday where he met with the prime minister. From there he went to Erbil and met with the prime minister of the Kurdistan regional government. 

Many Kurds are concerned that a US pullout will make them vulnerable to assaults from Turkey and the remaining members of ISIS still in the region. 

Pompeo told reporters Wednesday that the US is working on a pullout strategy that keeps Kurdish allies safe. 

“We’re having conversations with them even as we speak about how we will effectuate this in a way that protects our forces, makes sure that the Americans, as we withdraw, are safe, and we will complete the mission of taking down the last elements of the caliphate before we depart,” he said.

“These have been folks that have fought with us and it’s important that we do everything we can to ensure that those folks that fought with us are protected,” Pompeo added. 
 

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