Source: China Daily Published: 2019-1-9
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Middle East tour is largely meant to appease Washington's allies in the region and dismiss their doubts and fears over President Donald Trump's rush decision to pull US troops from Syria, analysts said.
Pompeo pledged on Monday that the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or IS, would not be allowed to regroup, before he started an eight-nation trip to the Middle East from Tuesday to next Wednesday.
"The United States is still committed to all the missions that we've signed up for with them over the past two years," he said.
Diao Daming, an associate professor of international relations at Renmin University of China, said Pompeo's Middle East tour is trying to make amends for Trump's rush pullout decision, which caused concerns among its Middle East allies.
"The US hasn't confirmed the timetable and details of its pullout, but it has already caused fears among its allies," he said.
"It looks like the US has lost credibility with its allies, and Pompeo's tour is one of several recent moves by US officials to appease allies and confirm the US' future presence in the region."
However, he said, the huge uproar caused by the US pullout decision also showed that the US still has the ability to set the agenda in the Middle East and has a strong influence in the region.
Trump announced on Dec 19 that the US would immediately with-draw 2,000 troops from Syria, declaring that the IS had been defeated. He has come under heavy pressure both at home and in allied capitals since then.
His advisers have recently been walking back his timeline, with national security adviser John Bolton saying on Monday in Jerusalem that the US would verify that IS is truly defeated before withdrawing.
Trump also said on Monday that the fight against the Islamic State group was not over and that withdrawal would be done in a "prudent" manner.
"We will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!" Trump tweeted.
Another major focus of Pompeo's Middle East tour is to maintain a regional coalition to counter Iran, the main enemy of US allies Saudi Arabia and Israel.
"This is a coalition that understands that the largest threats - terrorism and the Islamic Republic of Iran - are things that we ought to work on jointly and we will be marshaling all of the resources, theirs and ours, to achieve them," Pompeo said.
Wang Peng, an associate research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, said the US has been involved in the Middle East for a long time and has great interest in the region. Its allies don't want it to pull out either.
"Apart from appeasing allies, Pompeo's mission this time is also to ask Middle East allies to take more responsibilities in countering Iran," he said.
Last year, Trump abandoned the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a move that has been criticized by the international community.
Wang Peng, an associate research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.