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Pompeo takes US anti-Iran message to Gulf Arab states

AP  |  Cairo 

US brought the Trump administration's anti-message to states on Friday, arriving in to continue a nine-nation tour of the aimed at reassuring America's partners that withdrawing troops from does not mean is abandoning the region.

Pompeo was travelling to and the where he will call for increasing pressure on and push for unity among Gulf neighbors still embroiled in a festering dispute with He'll also be promoting a U.S.-backed initiative to form what some have termed an "Arab NATO" that would bring the region together in a military alliance to counter threats from

In Bahrain, the UAE and later Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, Pompeo will also be making the case as he did on previous stops in Jordan, and that Donald Trump's decision to pull US troops from is not a sign is retreating from the fight against the Islamic State group.

US partnerships with the members of the "are critical to achieving shared regional objectives: defeating ISIS, countering radical Islamic terrorism, protecting global energy supplies, and rolling back Iranian aggression," the said in a statement released as Pompeo departed for Bahrain, which is home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet.

But the now 2-year-old crisis between GCC members and UAE and has hampered US attempts to forge a unified front against Iran. Washington's efforts to ease the dispute, begun by former have thus far failed and took another hit this week when the former general tasked to a solution stepped down.

"A united GCC is the backbone for regional peace, prosperity, security, and stability, and is essential to countering the single greatest threat to regional stability: the Iranian regime," the said.

At each of his stops in the Gulf, Pompeo will be urging progress on creating the Strategic Alliance, which would join GCC militaries with those of and to serve as a counter-balance to Iran, which they all accuse of fomenting unrest and rebellion throughout the region.

Pompeo told before departing from that there would be an international conference on Iran and the in on February 13-14. Pompeo during his trip will also call for boosting efforts to end the conflict in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling Iranian-backed rebels in what the UN says is now the world's worst humanitarian crisis, the department said.

UN-led peace efforts in Yemen, along with attempts to a to the war in that "expels every last Iranian boot from the country" and promoting reconciliation in will also be high on Pompeo's agenda, the said.

Pompeo kicked off the Gulf portion of his tour after a stop in Cairo, where he delivered a scathing rebuke of former Barack Obama's Middle East policies that Obama had outlined in a 2009 address to the Arab and broader Muslim world.

In a speech entitled "for Good: America's Reinvigorated Role in the Middle East," Pompeo accused the former of "misguided" thinking that diminished America's role in the region while harming its longtime friends and emboldening Iran.

He unloaded on the for being naive and timid when confronted with challenges posed by the revolts that convulsed the Middle East, including Egypt, beginning in 2011. And, he said the was taking action to repair the damage.

"The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering," Pompeo said in the speech, which was itself denounced by former officials for pandering to autocrats, ignoring human rights concerns.

"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," National Security Action group, a group of former officials, said in a statement.

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 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 Hezbollah movement in to the detriment of Israel's security and not doing enough to push back on Iran-supported rebels in

Since withdrawing from the nuclear deal last year, the administration has steadily ratcheted up pressure on and routinely accuses the nation of being the most destabilising influence in the region. It has vowed to increase the pressure until Iran halts what US officials describe as its "malign activities" throughout the Mideast and elsewhere, including support for rebels in Yemen, anti-groups, and Syrian President

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, January 11 2019. 17:35 IST