Pompeo starts Middle East visit to ramp up pressure on Iran

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

He went on to list a sequence of crises in the Middle East - some of which have roots that predate the Obama administration - citing the explosive growth of ISIS, Syria's killing of its own citizens, Iran's moves to expand its influence, and Hezbollah's stockpiling of rockets.

The comments raised eyebrows in the United States and overseas not the least because Trump himself is being criticized for his ambiguous plan announced last month to pull US troops out of Syria.

The vacancies are especially problematic as the Trump administration continues to send contradictory messages about its policies toward friends and foes in the region.

During a meeting with the speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Mohamed al Halbousi, Pompeo said the USA and Iraq had "worked closely together to take down Daesh", using the Arabic acronym for the terror group.

Trump's December 19th announcement that USA forces would be leaving Syria left a trail of disarray in its wake.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Pompeo met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, on the third leg of his Middle East tour.

Pompeo also said the Obama administration had failed the region during the Arab Spring revolutions.

The dozens of remaining vacancies stem from both political fights on Capitol Hill and Trump's apparent lack of urgency in putting forward nominees.

"We will need the support of the United States", he said, adding that one of the purposes of his meeting with Pompeo was, "to express gratitude to the USA for support over the years, certainly". Other nominees have faced sexual harassment lawsuits or been embroiled in federal investigations.

The Netherlands to take in some Sea Watch migrants under Maltese deal
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the people will be re-distributed among eight European Union countries, including Ireland. Malta last week allowed the boats to shelter near its coasts from the bad weather but would not let them disembark the migrants.

Pompeo directly repudiated Obama's 2009 Cairo speech, which was an overture by the then-new president to the Islamic world. "It's a crying shame that this is the new normal".

A senior administration official said Tuesday that resolving the fate of these prisoners is a top priority as the government lays the groundwork with allies to comply with President Donald Trump's December 19 order to withdraw the 2,000 American troops from Syria, where they have been working alongside the USA -backed Syrian Defense Forces to fight the Islamic State group since 2015. The announcement showcased a chaotic policymaking process in Washington, where top officials were left scrambling to reverse-engineer a coherent Syria policy.

Defense Secretary James Mattis announced his resignation shortly thereafter and slammed the president in his resignation letter, which caused Trump to push him out at the end of the year instead of his original February departure.

Gen. Dunford argued in part that keeping the US outposts in place would provide security for Turkey as well.

Trump's new statement follows a trip by his national security adviser John Bolton to Israel in which he told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday that withdrawal would not happen before "ISIS is defeated and not able to revive itself".

"By most accounts, Trump's Middle East policy has made a messy Middle East even messier", Aaron David Miller, a former United States diplomat and now an analyst at the Wilson Center, said on Twitter.

Sadly, if Washington ever had a weltanschauung - a grand, consistent world view - it all began to fall apart before even the first of the two envoys tapped to deliver these messages had arrived.

"There's no change in our commitment to the defeat of the caliphate or of ISIS globally".

The withdrawal of U.S. forces in Syria strengthens the hand both of Turkey and of the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, which is backed by Russian Federation and Iran.

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