US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta) AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Mike Pompeo

Pompeo delivered a brutal dressing down to Obama and his Mideast policy during a powerful address in Cairo on Thursday.

By: Associated Press and United with Israel Staff

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a scathing rebuke of the Obama administration’s Mideast policies on Thursday, accusing the former president of “misguided” and “wishful” thinking that diminished America’s role in the region, harmed its longtime friends and emboldened its main foe: Iran.

In contrast, Pompeo vowed that the U.S. now “will use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria, in an effort “to bring peace and stability to the long-suffering Syrian people,” reported Times of Israel.

In his speech to the American University in Cairo, Pompeo unloaded on Barack Obama, saying he was 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 Obama in a speech he gave in Cairo in 2009 in which he spoke of “a new beginning” for U.S. relations with countries in the Arab and Muslim world.

“Remember: It was here, here in this very city, another American stood before you,” Pompeo told an invited audience of Egyptian officials, foreign diplomats and students. “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.”

Pull No Punches

“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,” Pompeo said, without mentioning the former president by name.

Pompeo’s speech came on the third leg of a nine-nation Mideast tour aimed at reassuring America’s Arab partners that the Trump administration is not walking away from the region amid confusion and concern over plans to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.

Pompeo blamed the previous administration’s approach to the Mideast for the ills that consume it now, particularly the rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and Iran’s increasing assertiveness, which he said was a direct result of sanctions relief, since rescinded by the Trump administration, granted to it under the 2015 nuclear deal.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 said Obama ignored the growth of the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon to the detriment of Israel’s security and not doing enough to push back on Iran-supported terrorists in Yemen.

“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,” he said. “Now comes the real ‘new beginning.’ In just 24 months, actually less than two years, the United States under President Trump has reasserted its traditional role as a force for good in this region, because we’ve learned from our mistakes.”

‘A Force for Good’

In the speech entitled “A Force for Good: America’s Reinvigorated Role in the Middle East,” Pompeo extolled the Trump administration’s actions across the region cementing ties with traditional friendly governments, taking on the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and imposing tough new sanctions on Iran.

“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.

Since withdrawing from the nuclear deal last year, the administration has steadily ratcheted up pressure on Tehran, which is widely viewed as the most destabilizing influence in the region. It has vowed to increase the pressure until Iran halts its “malign activities” throughout the Mideast and elsewhere, including support for terror groups in Yemen, Israel, and Lebanon and its role as Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s primary protector.

“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,” Pompeo said.

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