Cairo: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed yesterday the US and its allies would work diplomatically to expel all Iranian troops from Syria, urging Middle East nations to forge a common stand against Tehran.
“It’s time for old rivalries to end, for the sake of the greater good of the region,” said Pompeo at a keynote address in Cairo.
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,” he added.
Washington’s top diplomat was in Egypt on the latest leg of a whistle-stop regional tour aimed at reassuring US allies after President Donald Trump’s shock decision to withdraw 2,000 US troops from Syria.
Pompeo will also visit Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia in the coming days.
In his speech at the American University in Cairo, Pompeo said the US was 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 recent comments appearing to walk back on Trump’s decision, but said Washington would remain engaged.
“We will withdraw our forces, our uniformed forces, from Syria and continue America’s crushing campaign,” Pompeo said at a Press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukry.
He also met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi after arriving in Cairo on Wednesday on his longest trip since taking office last year.
He has also visited Jordan, Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital Arbil.
Pompeo vowed a real “new beginning” in ties between the US and the Middle East, echoing former president Barack Obama’s landmark 2009 address to the Muslim world, also delivered from Cairo.
As Pompeo 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”.