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In Cairo, Pompeo commits to hunting terrorists, says US not ’empire-builder or oppressor’

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo participates in a joint press availability with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, in Amman, Jordan, on January 8, 2019. (State Department photo by Ron Pryzsucha/Released)
January 10, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the Middle East and eradicating terrorism and ISIS, whose caliphate he says has been “99 percent taken down.”

Speaking Thursday at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, as part of a multi-nation Middle East tour this week, Pompeo pointed out how the U.S. has been a “force for good” in the Middle East, saying, “For those who fret about the use of American power, remember: America has always been a liberating force, not an occupying power, in the Middle East. We’ve never dreamed of domination. Can you say the same of the Iranian regime?”

“America has been criticized for doing too much in the Middle East, or for doing too little. But one thing we’ve never been is an empire-builder or oppressor,” he pointed out.

“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. We have rediscovered our voice. We have rebuilt our relationships. We have rejected false overtures from enemies,” Pompeo said.

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There are now 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq where there were once 166,000, Pompeo said.

“President Trump empowered U.S. commanders in the field to strike ISIS quicker and harder than ever before. Today, 99 percent of the territory ISIS once held is now liberated and life is returning to normal for millions of Iraqis and Syrians,” he said.

Additionally, since 2014, the U.S. has given $2.5 billion in humanitarian aid to Iraq, the State Department said, pointing out that nearly $30 billion has been provided to Iraq for reconstruction from the U.S. and its allies.

Not only is the United States committed to confronting “the ugly reality of radical Islamist terrorism,” but the U.S. is still going to counter terrorism where needed in the Middle East, regardless of pulling troops out of Syria.

“Our airstrikes in the region will continue as targets arise. We will keep working with our partners in the Coalition to defeat ISIS. We will continue to hunt down terrorists in the Middle East and around the world who seek safe havens,” Pompeo said. “The United States will continue to help our partners guard their borders, prosecute terrorists, screen travelers, assist refugees and more.”

During his 25-minute speech, Pompeo also pointed out how the Trump Administration has confronted and continues to confront Iran’s “campaigns of destruction and destabilization in the region and around the world.”

“America’s economic sanctions against the regime are among the strongest in history, and will keep getting tougher until the Iranian regime changes its policies that threaten the United States and the international community,” he said.

In May, Pompeo outlined 12 demands of Iran that the country refuses to meet. In February, it will have been four decades since the Iranian regime seized control, the State Department said.

“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 Trump Administration stands with the Iranian people, as they demand new freedoms and accountability they deserve,” the State Department said.