Mike Pompeo blames Obama's 'misjudged' foreign policy for chaos in Middle East

Pompeo is touring the region to explain US strategy after Trump's surprise announcement of an abrupt withdrawal of all 2,000 US troops from Syria, which rattled allies and shocked top US officials, prompting US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign.

Of the nine countries Pompeo is visiting, five are without ambassadors.

"It feels a little bit as if the approach is to 'talk loudly and carry a small stick, '" said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

Trump, who drew bipartisan criticism over his abruptly announced plan to quit Syria, said US forces would be able to use Iraq as a base for regional operations against adversaries. What to do with them has become a critical and growing problem for the Trump administration as it prepares to pull troops out of the country.

Pompeo is meeting with USA allies in the region, including stops in Jordan, Egypt and several Gulf nations, to coordinate an anti-Iran campaign. Still, the United States desperately needs massive military bases it maintains in Qatar, the largest in the region with 10,000 U.S. servicemen, and in Saudi allies Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait, also on Pompeo's itinerary.

Empty ambassador posts are filled in an interim capacity by career diplomats, who don't have the same clout or influence in their host country as a presidentially nominated and Senate-confirmed ambassador.

According to the survey, published by the Israel Democracy Institute as part of its monthly Peace Index, 58 percent of Israelis said the decision announced by US President Donald Trump last month would "damage Israeli security interests". The FBI has said about 300 Americans have left or tried to leave the U.S.to join ISIS. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.

Al Jazeera's senior political analyst Marwan Bishara said that Pompeo's speech failed to resonate with the Arab audience. "It's a crying shame that this is the new normal".

Earlier this week, Trump, who has lost his secretary of defense James Mattis and his representative to the anti-Islamic State (IS) Coalition Brett McGurk over his surprise announcement on Syria, seemed to be taking a step back on the decision to withdraw the U.S. troops when he said the timeline was still being decided.

Pompeo said on Thursday the United States would withdraw its troops from Syria while continuing to finish the battle against ISIS. That's a low bar, of course, considering that the other players include Iran, Russia, Assad, and ISIS (or its successors and rival jihadists).

Turkish officials had a tense meeting this week with US National Security Adviser John Bolton in Ankara aimed at coordinating the pullout process after Bolton set conditions that appeared to postpone it indefinitely.

Pompeo insisted the two statements were entirely consistent.

"There's no change in our commitment to the defeat of the caliphate or of ISIS globally". "I never said we'd be doing it that quickly", the president said from the White House.

US forces entered Syria back in September 2014. After Bolton's stop in Israel, he was suddenly uninvited to meet with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan - apparently a result of Bolton's demand that Turkey not attack pro-US Kurdish fighters in Syria.

Instead, Erdogan went on television and chastised America's national security adviser. The SDF is mostly supported by the United States.

  • Leroy Wright