TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s surprise decision to withdraw troops from Syria will not thwart Washington’s plans to fight the regional threat posed by Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.
Pompeo, who made his remarks from Jordan, said the U.S. was ramping up commercial and diplomatic efforts in the near future to “put real pressure on Iran.”
The top U.S. diplomat is on a Middle East tour, making stops in Jordan, Egypt and several Gulf nations in a bid to coordinate a joint anti-Iran campaign.
Last month, Trump said he ordered a pullout of some 2,000 troops fighting alongside Syrian Kurds in northeastern Syria against Islamic State elements, a move that prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
At the time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was said to have tried in vain to persuade Trump to walk back the decision, which was met with significant “disappointment” in Jerusalem, Israeli media reported.
Pompeo on Tuesday said, “There is enormous agreement on the risk that Iran poses to Jordan and other countries in the region.”
In a joint press conference with Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Pompeo contended that Iran poses an “enormous risk” for the region.
“The president’s decision to withdraw our folks from Syria in no way impacts our capacity to deliver on that,” he said. “You will see in the coming days and weeks that we are doubling not only our diplomatic but our commercial efforts to put real pressure on Iran to achieve what it is we set out for them back in May.”
Safadi expressed concern over Iran’s hegemonic ambitions, saying, “We all have problems with Iran’s expansionist policies in the region.”
He also told Pompeo that Israel should withdraw from the Golan Heights — a strategic area on the northern border with Syria that Jerusalem views as critical to its security.
“International law regarding the Golan Heights is clear,” Safadi said. “Israel must withdraw from the region as part of a deal that will allow the rights of all sides to be maintained.”