US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a lengthy speech in Cairo, Egypt on 10 January. What was expected to be a clarification of the US Middle East policies largely became an anti-Obama rant, in which Pompeo explained what, in his opinion, led to Washington steering clear of the region.
Revising the Obama Legacy
The United States was “absent too much” in the Middle East, Pompeo told the audience at the American University in Cairo on Thursday, because its leaders “gravely misread our history and your historical moment”. He referred to Barack Obama, who gave a speech titled “A New Beginning” in Cairo in 2009, in which the then-US president called for mutual interest and mutual respect in relations between the United States and the Arab countries, as well as omitted the words “terrorism” and terror”, instead raising the issue of “violent extremism”.
Pompeo described Obama’s message as having produced an “adverse effect” on the lives of Egyptians and people across the region. “We grossly underestimated the tenacity and viciousness of radical Islamism,” he went on, adding that it was America’s hesitation that contributed to the Daesh* resurgence in Iraq.
Withdrawal From Syria
“When America retreats, chaos often follows”, Pompeo said in a nod to US withdrawal from Syria, “and when we partner with our enemies, they advance”.
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The Secretary of State expressed a…