POMPEO TO VISIT NETANYAHU FRIDAY TO OFFER ASSURANCES OVER U.S. SYRIA PULLOUT
The two men are expected to “discuss developments in Syria and the continued need to counter the Iranian regime’s destabilizing behavior in the region,” the State Department said on Wednesday.
News of the meeting came amid international furor regarding the US decision to remove its troops from northeastern Syria.
Prior to Netanyahu meeting, Pompeo will visit Turkey. He and Vice President Mike Pence will meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and ask him to halt his attack on the Kurds.
Republican Senator... Lindsey Graham..., who is a strong supporter of Israel, tweeted that he worried that as a result of the pullout of US troops – a move seen as an abandonment of America’s alley the Kurds – “we will not have allies in the future against... radical Islam..., ISIS will reemerge, & Iran’s rise in Syria will become a nightmare for Israel. I fear this is a complete and utter national security disaster in the making and I hope President Trump will adjust his thinking.”
He warned it could prove to be a worse disaster than when former US President Barack Obama left Iraq.
But in an interview with Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business Network, Pompeo dismisses the idea that US strategy was bad for Israel.
You heard earlier in our montage of comments from people – the former prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, was in the studio earlier this week, and he said the winners in all of this are Russia, Assad, Iran, and ISIS. Is it your belief that Israel today is less safe as a result of this move?” Bartiromo asked.
“No,” Pompeo responded.
What is happening in northeast Syria, he said, is “a small part of our Middle East strategy,” explaining that people should focus on the larger picture, which is “the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
To “focus singularly on what’s taking place in a part of Syria neglects the true risk to the American people, and how effective this administration has been at preventing that risk from impacting security for the American people,” Pompeo said.
At a Washington news conference, US President Donald Trump said he did not want US soldiers to die because of the border battle between Syria and Turkey, and he suggested that... Graham... should focus on... legislation... and the... Democrats... rather than... foreign policy....
...“Lindsay Graham... would like to stay in the Middle East for the... next thousand ...years, with ...thousands of soldiers fighting other people’s wars,”... Trump ...said. “I want to get out of the Middle East. I am not going to lose potentially thousands and tens of thousands of American soldiers fighting a... war between Turkey and Syria.”...
Trump added that in the aftermath of his decision, what has happened is that no American soldiers have been killed.
With respect to the... threat of ISIS..., Trump said that other parties such as... Russia, Iran and Syria... could combat the terrorist organization.
...“Russia, Iran, Syria... and to maybe a slightly lesser extent... they all hate ISIS... as much as we do,... and it is their part of the world.... We are seven thousand miles away,”... Trump said.... “Russia is tough,... they can kill... ISIS... just as well... and they happen to be in their neighborhood,” ...he added.
He noted that ....some of the Kurdish groups..., which people were pressing the... US to support, were actually worse than ISIS....
...“The PKK ...(the Kurdistan Workers Party), which is a part of the Kurds, as you know, is... more of a terrorist threat than ISIS,” Trump said....
...The US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Wednesday, 356 to 60 to condemn Trump's decision to withdraw US forces from Syria. Dozens of Trump's fellow Republicans joined the majority Democrats in favor....
Since the start of the Turkish assault last week,... Netanyahu has issued one statement in support of the Kurds but has otherwise been largely silent on the issue....
The... UN Security Council... said on Wednesday that it was concerned by the risks of a deterioration in the humanitarian situation in northeast Syria and the escape of Islamic State fighters, but made... no reference... to the Turkish assault... on Syrian Kurdish militia that began a week ago...
The... 15-member council... agreed to the brief statement after meeting for the second time behind closed doors since the Turkish operation began, which has forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee and raised doubt about the fate of thousands of Islamic State fighters in Kurdish jails.
The Security Council “expressed deep concern over the risk of the dispersion of terrorists from UN-designated groups, including... ISIL,... and are also very concerned over the risk of a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation.”
Such Security Council statements are agreed on by consensus. An attempt last week to produce a statement failed, diplomats said.
The council met last Thursday, and on Wednesday at the request of its... European members:... ...Germany, France, Belgium, Britain and Poland. They jointly called on Turkey last week to stop its military action....
“We deeply regret that Turkey has not responded yet to these repeated appeals from its allies as we do not believe Turkey’s unilateral military action will address its underlying security concerns,” the European members said in a joint statement on Wednesday after the Security Council meeting.
“Turkey’s ongoing military action seriously undermines the stability and security of the whole region, resulting in more civilian suffering, displacement and the severe hindering of access to humanitarian assistance,” they said.
US Ambassador to the United Nations... Kelly Craft... said separately after the council meeting that the United States called on Turkey to “cease undermining the campaign to defeat ISIS, cease endangering civilians, cease threatening peace, security and stability in the region, cease its offensive, and declare a ceasefire immediately.”
...Syrian government forces..., backed by Washington’s adversaries Russia and Iran..., have swiftly advanced into territory formerly patrolled by US troops....
...Turkey has justified its action... under Article... 51 of the UN Charter..., which covers an individual or collective right to... self-defense against armed attack.... It told the Security Council in a letter last week that its military operation in northern Syria would be... “proportionate, measured and responsible.”...
With respect to the threat of ISIS, Trump said that other parties such as Russia, Iran and Syria could combat the terrorist organization.
“Russia, Iran, Syria and to maybe a slightly lesser extent they all hate ISIS as much as we do, and it is their part of the world. We are seven thousand miles away,” Trump said.
“Russia is tough, they can kill ISIS just as well and they happen to be in their neighborhood,” he added.
He noted that some of the Kurdish groups, which people were pressing the US to support, were actually worse than ISIS.
“The PKK (the Kurdistan Workers Party), which is a part of the Kurds, as you know, is more of a terrorist threat than ISIS,” Trump said.
Reuters contributed to this report.