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January 11, 2019 1:29 pm

Pompeo Pushes Back Against Egyptian Journalist’s Comparison With Predecessor Tillerson on US Muslim Brotherhood Policy

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Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Jordanian capital, Amman, chanting pro-Palestinian slogans in April 2018. Photo: Reuters / Muhammad Hamed.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday pushed back against a veteran Egyptian television journalist who suggested that he was the following the cautious policy of his predecessor, Rex Tillerson, toward the Muslim Brotherhood — the global Islamist party that took power in Egypt in 2012 before it was ousted a year later in a military coup led by current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

In an interview with Amal Roushdy, Pompeo was asked why he was “still not designating or reluctant to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, when you personally cosponsored the Congress designation bill in 2015? President Trump talked about this and his willingness among other U.S. officials who also pointed on this issue.”

In the exchange that followed, Pompeo emphasized there “has been no nation that rivals what the United States has done in terms of applying security pressure, financial pressure, economic pressure, on all of those elements, whether it be al-Qaeda or HTS, any extremist group.”

“The United States is leading the effort to push back against them,” Pompeo said. “We understand that absent a comprehensive effort against extremism the world will be a less safe and prosperous place, and Egypt will suffer from that as well.”

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Roushdy pressed the point by asking Pompeo whether he shared “the same views expressed by former Secretary of State Tillerson in June 2017, when he stated that it is a problematic issue to designate the Muslim Brotherhood [groups] because some of them are already occupying posts in government, like in Turkey for example?”

Replied Pompeo, “So you saw what I did when I was a member of Congress” — a reference to his backing of the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2015.

“Yes, I did,” Roushdy answered.

“We need to build a broad consensus in the United States on all issues related to sanctions,” Pompeo continued. “We’re working to do that.”

Later in the interview, Pompeo had harsh words for Hamas — the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood that rules in Gaza.

“With respect to the Gaza Strip, make no mistake about it, the disaster, the difficulties there in that region, are the result of Hamas and the terror that they have inflicted on the Palestinian people there,” the secretary of state said.

Throughout Friday’s interview, Pompeo highlighted the danger posed to the region by Iran — a theme that similarly dominated his speech in the Egyptian capital on Thursday.

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