US Secretary of State Pompeo stresses need for Gulf unity against Iran

US Secretary of State Pompeo stresses need for Gulf unity against Iran

Kerry Wise
April 30, 2018

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was essential for Gulf Arab monarchies to achieve unity, in an apparent attempt to resolve the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and a Saudi-led coalition.

Speaking after a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels on Friday, Pompeo said Trump had not taken a decision on whether to abandon the deal but was not likely to stick to it without substantial changes.

Pompeo said, "Iran has only behaved worse since the deal was approved", accusing it of carrying out cyberhacking campaigns, arming Houthi rebels in Yemen, and supporting what he described as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's "murderous regime".

During the state visit, Pompeo also assured Saudi Arabia that the US will follow through with President Trump's commitment to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. The discord between the Gulf states has frustrated USA officials' attempts to weaken the influence of Iran in the region.

Upon landing in Israel, the Secretary of State was greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

"Pompeo's early and quick trip to the region, particularly to Israel, is also a form of station identification that the new secretary of state intends to become a dominant force in Middle East policymaking", said Aaron David Miller, a former State Department official specializing in Middle East issues who is now at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Pompeo's tour which also includes Jerusalem and Amman comes just two days after he was sworn-in as the 70th US Secretary of State.

Pompeo accused Iran of supplying missile technology and weapons to rebels in Yemen.

Pompeo also addressed the rift between Qatar and its neighbours, telling reporters after leaving Riyadh: "We are hopeful that they will, in their own way, figure out how to remove the dispute between them".

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Trump is facing heavy pressure from European and other parties to stick to the Iran nuclear deal. "We've got a common challenge in Iran I think they all recognize that".

The ex-CIA chief had arrived in the kingdom a day earlier, shortly after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen fired missiles at Saudi Arabia's southern city of Jizan, killing one person and underscoring what US officials said is a growing threat emanating from Iran.

During the press conference, Jubeir said, "Iran should be dealt with by imposing further sanctions for its violations of worldwide laws relating to ballistic missiles".

The controversial move has triggered a strong Palestinian condemnation and a new wave of violence between Israel and the Palestinians.

The embassy move is deeply opposed by the Palestinians, who on May 15 will mark the anniversary of what they term the "nabka", or catastrophe, when they fled or were driven from their homes during the 1948 Palestine war.

In London, British Prime Minister Theresa May's office said that she discussed the deal with her French and German counterparts.

Dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during recent protests along the border between Israel and Gaza.

Pompeo is the highest ranking USA official to meet with the North Korean dictator.