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Pompeo calls Iran 'a truly malign actor' in Middle East

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sits during a meeting with Sultan of Oman Qaboos bin Said al-Said (not pictured) at the Beit Al Baraka Royal Palace in Muscat, Oman January 14, 2019
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has characterized the threat from Iran in the Middle East region as "very real," adding that the United States is committed to the stability of the region.

Pompeo who was speaking via satellite link to the participants of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, further toughened the US position against Iran following his recent tour of the Middle East earlier in January.

Warning against Iran’s “foreign adventurism,” Pompeo said Iran is “truly malign actor” in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, where Hezbollah is a challenge. In Iraq, Iran is striving to reduce freedom, sovereignty and independence of the country, he said.

Pompeo also seemed inviting more support by saying the US needs to further strengthen the Middle East coalition to confront the Iran threat.

Saudi Arabia, the Arab Gulf states and Israel are clearly in the US camp but the position of Iraq and Turkey is more neutral.

According to the Arab News, the attendees at the forum include several senior figures from Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East. More than 3,000 political, business and civic leaders have descended upon Davos in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting on Tuesday.

"The US will need coalitions built out to ensure that there is Middle East stability,” The National quoted Pompeo as having said on Tuesday. And the Arab News quoted him as having said that the US has already assembled a “global coalition of nations to confront Iran and support the aspirations of the Iranian people.”

During his recent tour of several Middle East countries, Pompeo broke the news about a summit to be held in Warsaw, Poland in mid-February "to promote peace and stability in the Middle East."

Iranian officials perceived the conference as an "anti-Iran" event and harshly criticized the US for suggesting and Poland for hosting the conference.

Subsequently, Iran summoned Poland's ambassador to Tehran to the Foreign Ministry in protest, and Poland send its deputy foreign minister to Tehran to reassure Iranian officials of Warsaw's "friendly" intentions.

The success of the conference is not assured by any means as European countries are wavering and might not attend.

In his speech Pompeo said that Mesa (the Middle East Strategic Alliance) program is an “important component” of how America will approach threats to regional stability. The concept of the program has been nicknamed in the Middle East as an "Arab Nato."

Pompeo's remarks about Iran escalated the worsening of relations between Tehran and Washington to a higher level, highlighting Iran's regional threat, one day after Iranian and Israeli officials exchanged threats.

The Iranian Army's air force commander renewing the threat "to wipe Israel off the planet," and the Israeli prime minister replying "Whoever tries to hurt us – we hurt them. Whoever threatens to destroy us will bear the full responsibility," he said, adding that "We are acting against Iran and against the Syrian forces that abet the Iranian aggression," Haaretz quoted Netanyahu as saying on Monday after a day of Israeli attacks on Iranian military positions in Syria.

Speaking about topics other than Iran, Pompeo hoped that an end to the Yemen conflict is in sight. He also spoke about the battle against ISIS, saying that "the US has defeated the ISIS in Syria and Iraq."

The United States wants the Islamic Republic to change its behavior in the areas of human rights, and to stop regional adventurism, and limit its nuclear activity and ballistic missile program.
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