DAVOS: The US wants to build more coalitions in the Middle East to counter the “very real” threat of Iran’s malign meddling in the region, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday.
Speaking via video link, Pompeo said the US was committed to a “secure and stable” Middle East and had assembled a “global coalition of nations to confront Iran and support the aspirations of the Iranian people.”
Pompeo said: “America is committed to helping the Middle East be secure and stable. We are a force for good in the region, and we have been for an awfully long time.”
He said the biggest threat to regional stability was Iran, especially in crisis zones such as Yemen, Syria and Iraq, and in its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
“Those are places where Iran is truly the malign actor, and that is why we are so happy with the coalition we have built,” he said.
“It is so central to creating the stability the people of the Middle East so richly deserve.
“There are political and diplomatic solutions to all of these problems, and we need all our diplomats, from all across the region, working to solve them.”
Pompeo also expressed optimism about an end to the conflict in Yemen, where a Saudi-led military coalition is supporting the legitimate government against Iran-backed Houthi militias.
“I am very hopeful we can make progress there,” he said. “We made a big step forward with the agreement surrounding the port of Hodeidah; we got real commitment from all the parties.
“It was most unfortunate that the Houthis made a major break on Jan. 10 to that cease-fire by using an Iranian-designed instrument of war to kill people after those agreements were reached back in December.
“I know that the Gulf states are committed to achieving that outcome; we are committed here in the United States.”
Pompeo also spoke briefly about peace between Israel and Palestine, and said talks would not be “driven by the US” but by the Israelis and Palestinians themselves.
Globally, Pompeo praised a wave of “disruption” in world politics, including the election of Donald Trump, the UK vote to leave the European Union and elections in France and Malaysia.
He renewed Trump’s criticism of international institutions and the US president’s calls for “strong borders” to protect national sovereignty. “New winds are blowing across the world,” he said. “I’d argue that this disruption is a positive development.”
Pompeo acknowledged that Trump’s criticism of international institutions had ruffled feathers. “Sometimes leadership and asking hard questions drives others to be a little concerned. Perhaps they’re not quite ready to stare these problems in the face. But we are — President Trump is.”