Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is returning to the Middle East to again push for action against Iran, his chief foreign policy foe. But the message of this trip, his second to the region this year, will find three very different audiences, likely with varying degrees of acceptance.
In Israel, Pompeo will embrace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally in the Trump administration’s campaign to push back on Iranian influence. In Kuwait, he will press the Amir and other leaders for unity among Gulf Arab countries against Iran. And in Lebanon, he will urge leaders, including those with close ties to Hezbollah, to “disconnect” from the group and its supporter Iran — a tall order as the group now controls cabinet posts in the country’s government.
Pompeo’s first stop will be in Kuwait, the small, oil-rich U.S. partner on the tip of the Persian Gulf, where he will co-host a strategic dialogue meant to signify the importance of American-Kuwaiti relations.
But he’ll also have tough work cut out for him there, in particular trying to bolster Kuwait’s drive to reunify the other Gulf Cooperation Council countries that have been divided for nearly two years between Qatar and the Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates-led bloc that split with it and imposed a blockade.
The U.S. has said for months that the two sides need to repair relations, with the rift dangerous for security and ripe to give Iran an opening. But instead, each side has doubled down, and the problem has become so intractable that earlier this year the Trump administration’s special envoy for the crisis quit.
It’s unclear how optimistic Pompeo is about making headway there, but he will also be advocating for the new Middle East Security Alliance, a U.S.-backed alliance of Gulf countries with Egypt and Jordan meant by the Trump administration to be a united front against Iran. While it’s made some headway in getting off the ground, it’s still marked by internal disputes and an vague, broad mission.
Source » abc7