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Pompeo Assails Obama's Mideast, Iran Policies

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, gives a speech at the American University in Cairo, January 10, 2019

In a fiery speech, the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo lambasted former President Obama, describing his foreign policy as "misguided" and "wishful" thinking that diminished America's role in the region, harmed its longtime friends and emboldened its arch enemy the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Speaking at American University in Cairo, Egypt, Pompeo insisted that “the age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering," adding, "Now comes the real 'new beginning.' In just 24 months, the United States under President Trump has reasserted its traditional role as a force for good in this region, because we’ve learned from our mistakes."

"The nations of the Middle East will never enjoy security, achieve economic stability, or advance the dreams of its peoples if Iran's revolutionary regime persists on its current course," Pompeo said.

The secretary was in Egypt on the third leg of a nine-country tour through the Middle East, promoting the President Trump administration's counter-Tehran strategy.

"In falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East, we were timid about asserting ourselves when the times — and our partners — demanded it," Pompeo said, without mentioning the former president by name.

Blaming the Obama administration for standing idly by, while tens of thousands of people in Iran poured into the streets to protest the official outcome of the presidential election in 2009, Pompeo branded Washington's reaction at the time as "naive" and "misguided".

While then French President Nicolas Sarkozy maintained that the result, giving the incumbent Ahmadinejad 62.4 percent of the vote, was a "fraud", President Obama was more muted in his response, saying there may not be a great difference between the incumbent and the main challenger, Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

"It's important to understand that, although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as has been advertised," Obama remarked.

Speaking to CNBC television on June 2009, Obama asserted, "Either way, we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused some problems in the neighborhood and has been pursuing nuclear weapons."

Furthermore, Obama implicitly committed himself to stay away from the development in Iran, saying, "It is not productive, given the history of US-Iranian relations to be seen as meddling - the U.S. president, meddling in Iranian elections."

Ahmadinejad's challengers, Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, have been placed under house arrest since February 2011.

Pompeo also criticized Obama for ignoring the growth of Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah to the detriment of Israel's security and not doing enough to push back Iranian-supported Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Retaliating, Iran’s foreign minister derided Pompeo’s speech on Thursday in which he said “when America retreats, chaos follows,” by insisting the opposite was true.

“Whenever/wherever U.S. interferes, chaos, repression and resentment follow,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet.