Mon, 18 Nov 2019

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues tour of Arab countries

By Jay Jackson, Nigeria News.Net
13 Jan 2019, 23:24 GMT+10

MANAMA, Bahrain - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued his trip to the GCC countries and the broader Middle East on Friday, in a bid to shore up support from Arab allies following the abrupt announcement by President Trump that he is withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria.

Allies see the withdrawal as part of a wider move by the United States to disengage from the region.

Pompeo arrived in Bahrain on Friday, the fourth country to be visited on his tour of nine Arab countries.

In the tiny Gulf country that adjoins Saudi Arabia, Pompeo met with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad and Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa. 

The secretary of State began his journey on Tuesday with a visit to Amman, Jordan, followed by a stop in Baghdad where he conferred with Iraq's President Barham Saleh, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and Parliamentary Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi. He then  called on the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital of Erbil.

In the two days leading up to Friday Pompeo was in Cairo in meetings with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri. 

Following his time in Bahrain, the head of the State Department will continue on to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kuwait. He is apparently not ioncluding Lebanon on his itinerary, or the Palestinian territories.

Significantly, Mr Pompeo is visiting all member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The State Department has said previously it wants a "united GCC as the backbone for regional peace, prosperity, security and stability" to counter Iran, an indicator it wants the rift between some members of the GCC and Qatar healed.

It also wants to work with the council to advance a proposed Middle East Strategic Alliance, or Mesa, a Nato-style security pact.

The secretary is also understood to be in discussion with Arab leaders about the ongoing war in Yemen, which Congress has been demanding an end to.


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