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Pompeo vows to expel ‘every last Iranian’

AFP-Jiji

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to students at the American University in Cairo on Thursday.

AFP-Jiji CAIRO (AFP-Jiji) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed Thursday the United States and its allies would work diplomatically to expel all Iranian troops from Syria, urging Middle East nations to forge a common stand against Tehran.

“It’s time for old rivalries to end, for the sake of the greater good of the region,” said Pompeo at a keynote address in Cairo.

America “will use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria and bolster efforts “to bring peace and stability to the long-suffering Syrian people,” he added.

Washington’s top diplomat was in Egypt on the latest leg of a whistle-stop regional tour aimed at reassuring U.S. allies after President Donald Trump’s shock decision to withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria.

In his speech at the American University in Cairo, Pompeo said the U.S. was creating an anti-Iran front — the Middle East Strategic Alliance — bringing together Gulf countries as well as Egypt and Jordan.

Pompeo said the U.S. would ensure Israel has the military capacity to “defend itself against the Iranian regime’s aggressive adventurism.”

He stressed the troop pullout from Syria would go ahead, despite recent comments appearing to walk back on Trump’s decision, but said Washington would remain engaged.

“We will withdraw our forces, our uniformed forces, from Syria and continue America’s crushing campaign,” Pompeo said at a press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukry.

He also met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after arriving in Cairo late Wednesday on his longest trip since taking office last year.

He has also visited Jordan, Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital Arbil.

In his speech at the American University in Cairo, Pompeo vowed a real “new beginning” in ties between the United States and the Middle East, echoing former president Barack Obama’s landmark 2009 address to the Muslim world, also delivered from Cairo.

Pompeo’s tour aims to urge U.S. allies to continue to confront the “significant threats” posed by Iran and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group jihadists.

Multiple operations including American-backed assaults have ousted ISIL from most of the swathes of Syria and Iraq it captured in 2014.

Pompeo said Obama had “grossly underestimated the tenacity and viciousness of radical Islamism.”

But International Crisis Group chief Robert Malley, an Obama advisor on the Middle East, said hearing Pompeo’s speech was like “listening to someone from a parallel universe.”Speech

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