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January 10, 2019 12:53 pm

Pompeo in Cairo: US Backs Israel’s Efforts to ‘Stop Tehran From Turning Syria Into the Next Lebanon’

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to students at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 10, 2019. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / Pool via Reuters.

In his speech in Egypt on Thursday in which he assailed the Middle East policies of former US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated America’s backing of Israel’s efforts to counter Iran in the region.

“The United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against the Iranian regime’s aggressive adventurism,” Pompeo said in his remarks at the American University in Cairo. “We will continue to ensure that Israel has the military capacity to do so decisively.”

Along these lines, he further voiced assent to Israel’s drive to prevent the Tehran regime “from turning Syria into the next Lebanon.”

Regarding Lebanon itself, Pompeo continued, “the United States will work to reduce the threat of Hezbollah’s missile arsenal, which is aimed at Israel and can reach all points inside of that country.”

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“Many of these rockets are equipped with advance guidance systems, courtesy of Iran, and that’s unacceptable,” he declared. “Iran may think it owns Lebanon. Iran is wrong.”

Turning to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Pompeo said the US would “continue to press for a real and lasting peace” between the parties — offering no details on the anticipated roll-out of the Trump administration’s peace plan.

Pompeo also commented on what he called “remarkable” changes occurring in the Middle East.

“New bonds are taking root that were unimaginable until very recently,” he said. “Who could’ve believed a few years ago that an Israeli prime minister would visit Muscat? Or that new ties would emerge between Saudi Arabia and Iraq? Or that a Roman Catholic pope would visit this city to meet with Muslim imams and the head of the Coptic faith?”

He added, “In October of last year, the Israeli national anthem played as an Israeli judo champion was crowned the winner of a tournament in the United Arab Emirates. It was the first time — the first time — that an Israeli delegation was allowed to participate under its own national flag. It was also the first time that an Israeli culture and sports minister attended a sports event in the Gulf. She said, and I quote, ‘It is a dream come true. For two years we had talks in order to reach this moment.’ It was hard for her to stop the tears. ‘I want to thank the authorities in Abu Dhabi and our hosts here who received us in an exemplary manner.’ She could not have been happier.”

“These steps toward rapprochement are necessary for greater security in the face of our shared threats, and they also hint at a much brighter future for the region,” Pompeo noted.

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