US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a powerful force for stability in the Middle East.
Pompeo's comment came in an article he penned in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, in which he added that Saudi Arabia is working to “secure Iraq’s fragile democracy and keep Baghdad tethered to the West’s interests, not Tehran’s.”
The US Secretary of State emphasized the role of Saudi Arabia in the Middle East and its stability, saying that Riyadh is helping manage the flood of refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war by working with host countries, cooperating closely with Egypt, and establishing stronger ties with Israel.
He wrote that the Saudi kingdom also contributed millions of dollars to the US-led effort to fight ISIS and other terrorist organizations.
Regarding oil prices and market stability, Pompeo said that Saudi oil production and economic stability are key to regional prosperity and global energy security.
Iran’s threat in the region
In his article, the US Secretary of State also criticized those who are using “the Khashoggi murder” for ulterior motives, saying: “Is it any coincidence that the people using the Khashoggi murder as a cudgel against President Trump’s Saudi Arabia policy are the same people who supported Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Iran—a regime that has killed thousands world-wide, including hundreds of Americans, and brutalizes its own people? Where was this echo chamber, where were these avatars of human rights, when Mr. Obama gave the mullahs pallets of cash to carry out their work as the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism?”
As for the “Khashoggi killing,” Pompeo confirmed the US administration stance saying that 21 Saudi suspects have been deemed ineligible to enter the US, and had their visas revoked. He adding that: “Trump administration will consider further punitive measures if more facts about Khashoggi’s murder come to light.”
Pompeo also said that the US and Saudi Arabia recognize the immense threat of Iran.
He wrote that: “ Modern-day Iran is, in Henry Kissinger’s term, a cause, not a nation. Its objectives are to spread the Islamic revolution from Tehran to Damascus, to destroy Israel, and to subjugate anyone who refuses to submit, starting with the Iranian people. An emboldened Iran would spread even more death and destruction in the Middle East, spark a regional nuclear-arms race, threaten trade routes, and foment terrorism around the world.”
As for the Yemeni crisis and Iranian meddling through its pro-militias, Pompeo said: “One of Mohammed bin Salman’s first acts as Saudi crown prince was an effort to root out Iran’s destabilizing influence in Yemen, where the Tehran-backed Houthi rebels seized power in 2015.”
Pompeo warned that: “Tehran is establishing a Hezbollah-like entity on the Arabian Peninsula: a militant group with political power that can hold Saudi population centers hostage, as Hezbollah’s missiles in southern Lebanon threaten Israel.”
He added that: “Houthis have occupied Saudi territory, seized a major port, and, with Iranian help, improved their ballistic-missile targeting so that they can shoot at Riyadh’s international airport, through which tens of thousands of Americans travel. Meanwhile, Tehran has shown no genuine interest in a diplomatic solution to the Yemen conflict.”
US administration pledging $131 mln to Yemen
Pompeo revealed that the Trump administration has also taken many steps to mitigate Yemen’s suffering from war, saying: “The US is pleased to announce it is providing nearly $131 million in additional food assistance for Yemen, bringing total humanitarian aid to more than $697 million over the past 14 months. The funds are being provided to the World Food Program and other organizations working to feed the Yemeni people.”
“Iran has no interest in easing Yemeni suffering; the mullahs don’t even care for ordinary Iranians. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has invested billions to relieve suffering in Yemen. Iran has invested zero,” he added.
Pompeo wrote that: “Yemen is also an important front in the war on terror, and has remained so across presidential administrations of both parties. The group now known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula launched its first major attack on Americans in October 2000, when its operatives bombed the USS Cole while the destroyer was berthed in Yemen’s Aden harbor. The attack left 17 sailors dead and 39 wounded.”
He added that: “AQAP has since attempted multiple attacks on the US homeland and allied interests, from Nigerian terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253, en route from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas 2009, to the 2015 massacre at Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris. ISIS also maintains a presence in Yemen, from which it seeks to attack the US and our allies.”
Pompeo concluded his article by saying that: “Abandoning or downgrading the US-Saudi alliance would also do nothing to push Riyadh in a better direction at home. Much work remains to be done to guarantee the freedoms for which America and President Trump always stand. Yet the crown prince has moved the country in a reformist direction, from allowing women to drive and attend sporting events, to curbing the religious police and calling for a return to moderate Islam.”
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