Pompeo: 'If we have to, we will strike Syria'

President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House Wednesday Jan. 2 2019 in Washington

President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House Wednesday Jan. 2 2019 in Washington

While Pompeo said a focus of his visit was to convince Baghdad to end its imports of electricity and natural gas from Iran, the main issue for Masoud Barzani was the USA withdrawal from Syria that will leave Kurds there exposed to an imminent offensive by Turkey. We have rediscovered our voice.

He also criticized Obama-era policy for "wishful thinking [that] led us to look the other way" as Hezbollah built up its weaponry in Lebanon, and for doing nothing as Syrian President Bashar Assad gassed his own people. "We have rejected false overtures from enemies".

Another sign of his outsider status - he was caught by surprise when Trump announced he was withdrawing US troops from Syria and - after a critical global response - pushed the president to delay the process for as long as possible.

"President Trump has made the decision to bring our troops home from Syria. but this isn't a change of mission". "ISIS continues - we fight them in many regions around the country.

And he is willing to do it again, although we hope we won't have to", Pompeo said. The sanctions cover Iran's shipping, financial and energy sectors.

Pompeo also welcomed Israel's warming ties with Arab Gulf states as "old rivalries" are put aside to confront Tehran.

"New bonds are taking root that were unimaginable until very recently", he said, pointing to Prime Minister Netanyahu's trip a year ago to the sultanate of Oman, a country with which Israel has no formal ties. "We all want to make sure that whatever threat there is mitigated", Safadi said.

Yemen's internationally recognized leader Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi expressed his "support for the efforts and work" of Griffiths at the talks in the Saudi capital, the Saba news agency reported.

US President Barack Obama speaks in Cairo on June 4, 2009.

The State Department had said Pompeo's speech would focus on "the United States' commitment to peace, prosperity, stability, and security in the Middle East".

In a rebuttal to the speech, a group of mainly former Obama administration foreign policy officials rejected Pompeo's assertions as petty and weak.

"John Bolton [US national security adviser] has made a grave mistake on this issue", a furious Mr Erdoğan told parliament as Mr Bolton arrived in Ankara for talks with Turkish officials.

Pompeo's trip comes weeks after Trump announced that the United States would quickly pull its 2,000 soldiers out of Syria, declaring that IS had been defeated. Pompeo said during a brief news conference with Foreign Minister Shoukry that Iran is the "greatest threat of all in the Middle East".

When he joined the administration, Bolton dumped McMaster's meeting-heavy schedule in favor of B one-on-one conversations with cabinet members or other senior officials directly. He said he discussed a "panoply" of rights concerns, including the detention of political prisoners but gave no specifics.

Pompeo's visit to Baghdad was not listed on his official travel itinerary for security reasons and some reporters were excluded from attending the daylong excursion.

While analysts have underscored the impact the withdrawal decision has had on USA allies, particularly the Kurds, and the potential benefits to Iran and Russian Federation of an American pullback, none have suggested the threat from ISIS has dissipated and instead have stressed it continues to exist.

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