Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reassured U.S. allies in the Middle East that the current administration is focused on righting the “dire” mistakes made under former President Obama’s leadership.
In remarks made in Cairo, Egypt on Thursday, Pompeo issued a scathing rebuke of Obama’s policies in the region while seeking to reassure allies that President Donald Trump is committed to them despite announced plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.
Without mentioning his name, Pompeo referred to Obama and cited his 2009 speech in Cairo touting a “new beginning” for relationships between the U.S. and nations in the Arab and Muslim world.
“Remember, it was here, here in this very city, another American stood before you,” he said in a speech at the American University in Cairo.
“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. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed ‘a new beginning.’ The results of these misjudgments have been dire,” the top U.S. diplomat said.
“In falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East, we were timid about asserting ourselves when the times — and our partners — demanded it,” he added.
He laid the blame for the rise of ISIS and hostility in Iran squarely on Obama’s shoulders before declaring that there’s a new sheriff in town with Trump.
“The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering,” Pompeo said.
“In just 24 months, the United States under President Trump has reasserted its traditional role as a force for good in this region,” he said. “We have rediscovered our voice. We have rebuilt our relationships. We have rejected false overtures from enemies.”
He focused attention on Iran directly, lobbing criticism at the Obama administration for the 2015 Iran nuclear accord which Trump exited last year.
“President Trump has reversed our willful blindness to the danger of the regime and withdrew from the failed nuclear deal, with its false promises,” Pompeo said.
“The nations of the Middle East will never enjoy security, achieve economic stability, or advance the dreams of its peoples if Iran’s revolutionary regime persists on its current course,” he added.
The National Security Action group, which is co-chaired by former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes – who helped write the 2009 Cairo speech – slammed Pompeo’s remarks in a statement, according to ABC News.
“That this administration feels the need, nearly a decade later, to take potshots at an effort to identify common ground between the Arab world and the West speaks not only to the Trump administration’s pettiness but also to its lack of a strategic vision for America’s role in the region and its abdication of America’s values,” the group said.
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