[KENYA] US to expel every last Iranian boot from Syria – Pompeo

The US will work with allies to “ every last ” from , Secretary of State Mike says.

Mr Pompeo warned there would be no US reconstruction aid for areas controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad until Iran and its proxies had left.

He also criticised ex-President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy, saying he had made “dire misjudgements”.

Mr Pompeo was speaking in Cairo three weeks after President Donald Trump said US troops were pulling out of Syria.

The announcement had shocked US allies and sparked strong criticism in Washington.

Mr Pompeo, who has been seeking to reassure allies following Mr Trump’s surprise announcement, said: “America will not retreat until the terror fight is over. We will labour tirelessly alongside you to defeat Isis [the Islamic State group], al-Qaeda and other jihadists that threaten our security and yours.”

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He said that the US was a “force for good” in the Middle East, adding: “Where America retreats, chaos follows.”

Why did Pompeo mention Iran?

Iran, alongside Russia, has been supporting the Syrian government in the Syrian civil war, providing arms, military advisers, and reportedly combat troops.

The US is deeply suspicious of Iranian activity in the Middle East and views it as a destabilising force in the region.

It is also an ally of Israel and Saudi Arabia, two of Iran’s foes.

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On Thursday, Mr Pompeo said: “We will not ease our campaign to stop Iran’s malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world.”

He added that American sanctions against Iran were “the strongest in history and will keep getting tougher”.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif mocked Mr Pompeo’s speech, saying that wherever the US interferes, “chaos, repression and resentment follow”.

How did Pompey criticise Obama – and why?

Mr Pompeo did not directly name Mr Trump’s predecessor. However, he referred frequently to a key speech Mr Obama gave in Cairo in 2009, where he had called for “a new beginning” for the US and the Middle East.

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Mr Pompeo said: “In this very city, another American stood before you. He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from ideology… He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed ‘a new beginning.’ The results of these misjudgements have been dire.”

“We were timid about asserting ourselves when the times – and our partners – demanded it,” he said.

The Trump administration has been critical of Mr Obama’s decision to strike a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear activities, and had accused him of being too soft on Islamist terrorism, and a poor ally to Israel.

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National Security Action, a think tank involving many of Mr Obama’s former policy advisers, criticised Mr Pompeo’s speech.

“That this administration feels the need, nearly a decade later, to take pot-shots 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,” it said in a statement

“Together with the broader administration he represents, Pompeo sees Islam as an enemy, human rights as a side concern, and autocrats worthy of embrace,” the group added.

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