Iran's Zarif calls Iran-focused summit in Poland a 'desperate circus'

Erika Holt
January 12, 2019

"That this administration feels the need, almost a decade later, to take potshots at an effort to identify common ground between the Arab world and the West speaks not only to the Trump administration's pettiness but also to its lack of a strategic vision for America's role in the region and its abdication of America's values", National Security Action group, a group of former officials, said in a statement. -Arab coalition aimed at "countering the Iranian regime's risky activities", according to the State Department, which previewed the second-half of Pompeo's trip to reporters here Friday afternoon.

It is one of the closest allies of regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia and shares its hostility Iran, which it accuses of fomenting unrest on the island.

The US is deeply suspicious of Iranian activity in the Middle East and views it as a destabilising force in the region.

Mr Pompeo is in the region to reassure USA allies alarmed by President Donald Trump's sudden decision to withdraw U.S. troops deployed in Syria to fight ISIS.

On Thursday, Mr Pompeo said: "We will not ease our campaign to stop Iran's malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world". "And Iran is stronger than ever", he wrote in a Twitter post that included a photograph from the 1996 "Summit of Peacemakers" in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif mocked Mr Pompeo's speech, saying that wherever the USA interferes, "chaos, repression and resentment follow". "In terms of calling out radical Islamists, Obama's address referred to the problem of 'violent extremism" - a term that has been criticized by Republicans as an attempt to be 'politically correct'".

Mr Pompeo revealed plans for the summit in an interview with the Fox News.

It quoted Pompeo saying, "Remember: It was here, here in this very city, another American stood before you. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed 'a new beginning.' The results of these misjudgments have been dire".

USA officials accompanying Pompeo worked overtime to ensure Iran remained the center of attention during his visit amid much regional unease over the administration's decision to withdraw all 2,000 American forces from Syria, where the fight against ISIS is ongoing.

The Trump administration has been critical of Mr Obama's decision to strike a deal to limit Iran's nuclear activities, and had accused him of being too soft on Islamist terrorism, and a poor ally to Israel.

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The US military has removed some equipment from Syria, a defense official confirmed Thursday, following a report that the drawdown ordered by President Donald Trump is now underway.

Former Obama administration officials rejected Pompeo's assertions as petty, political and weak.

Outgoing US Defence Secretary James Mattis has signed an order withdrawing US forces from Syria.

Some 2,000 USA military personnel are reported to be in Syria, and have been involved in fighting Islamic State militants. The U.S., however, while listing the PKK as a terrorist group, opted to continue its steadfast militarily support for the terrorist organization under the pretext of fighting Daesh despite warnings that the YPG does not represent Syrian Kurds.

He also pushed back at what he said was "a story made up by the media" of a divide between Trump and his national security advisers over whether Islamic State had been defeated in Syria.

The announcement shocked allies and several United States defence officials, including Defence Secretary James Mattis, resigned shortly afterwards.

Since then, however, administration officials appear to have walked back considerably and the current envisaged timetable is unclear.

Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, this week tried to make the case for guarantees that Turkey would not harm the US -backed YPG Kurdish militia after the withdrawal - earning a stiff rebuke from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in return. "We remain committed to the complete dismantling of the Isis [IS] threat", he said.

State Department officials have said Mr Pompeo hopes his trip will strengthen the GCC, which has been weakened by a diplomatic rift that has pitted Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain against Qatar for more than 18 months.

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