Iran Is ‘Central Problem’ Causing Instability in Middle East, US Secretary of State Pompeo Says
Iran is the “central problem” causing instability in the Middle East, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.
Speaking at Kansas State University, America’s top diplomat noted, “If you look at the conflicts, whether it’s the difficulty that Iraq has in standing up its own sovereign independence, the problem is the Islamic Republic of Iran. If you look at Israel’s security along its northern border, it’s Hezbollah, underwritten by Iran. If you stare at Syria today, it was the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps that drove Assad’s regime to successfully cause 6 million persons to be displaced from Syria. Today, Houthis in a country called Yemen are launching missiles into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
“The people of Iran are amazing people; the Persian history is staggeringly beautiful and gorgeous,” Pompeo added. “Our mission set has been twofold: first, to create a coalition — Gulf states, the Israelis, European partners, countries from Asia — to take the tension down, to create de-escalatory defense systems. You see what we’re doing in the Strait of Hormuz today, trying to create a situation where there’s less risk that there’ll be conflict. And then the second mission has been to deny the Iranian regime the wealth and resources to inflict their terror campaigns around the world. They are in fact the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. They have an active assassination campaign taking place in European capitals even as we speak. They’re underwriting Hezbollah in Argentina and Brazil. This is a regime that has a revolutionary flavor, and our mission set is to create the conditions where their behavior will change.”
“President Trump has said he’s happy to meet with the Iranian leadership,” he pointed out. “Happy might overstate it a bit, but willing for sure to meet with them because, in the end, we want to resolve this through diplomacy. We would love nothing more than for Iran to come back into the community of nations, to cease its efforts to proliferate nuclear weapon systems, to cease building out missile systems that threaten not only the Middle East but soon Europe as well, and to convince them that conducting terror campaigns in more than a dozen countries is not in their national security interest. It’s been our mission; it’s still a project where there’s a lot of work to do.”
Regarding the Trump administration’s yet-to-be-unveiled Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, Pompeo said, “We’ve undertaken a significant effort trying to unlock the riddle of peace between the — between Israel and the Palestinians. More to follow — a difficult problem, one that ultimately those two peoples will have to resolve for themselves, but we’ve worked hard on that. We’ve been consulting broadly throughout the region for two and a half years now, and I think in the coming weeks we’ll announce our vision and hopefully the world, Gulf states and — will see that as a building block, a basis on which to move forward.”