Turkey seeking Iran, Russia coordination on US' Syria exit

Cavusoglu attends a meeting on forming a constitutional committee in Syria at the United Nations in Geneva

The provocatively timed military drill came as USA secretary of state Mike Pompeo vowed to "expel every last Iranian boot" from Syria in an incendiary speech setting out his vision for the Middle East.

Speaking in Cairo, where Obama gave a major speech in 2009 in the first year of his presidency, Republican Trump's chief diplomat took on Obama by arguing that the Democratic former president had in effect misread and abandoned the Middle East.

"The president's decision to withdraw our folks from Syria in no way impacts our capacity to deliver on that", he said in a joint news conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. He said that Obama, who he did not name, "grossly underestimated the tenacity and viciousness of radical Islamism". "He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed 'a new beginning.' And the results of these misjudgments have been dire".

The U.S. has about 5,000 troops in Iraq, and Trump said on his visit that he had no intention to bring them home as he's signaled he'll do with the 2,000 American soldiers in Syria.

Brian Dooley, the group's senior adviser, said Pompeo failed to mention that Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen "repeatedly violated global law" and brushed aside the Egyptian government's "targeting of human rights activists, or of how torture in jails is driving prisoners into the arms of ISIS". "Those are all things that secretaries of state don't normally do but seem to becoming standard practice with Pompeo".

Cairo: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted Thursday that US troops will leave Syria, ahead of a keynote speech aiming to lay out a coherent US policy in the Middle East.

On Twitter, Martin Indyk, who served in the Obama administration, called the speech "shameful Obama-bashing".

National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said US officials were told Erdogan cited local election season and a speech to parliament for not meeting with Bolton.

Pompeo's speech triggered critical reactions from former Obama officials, including Robert Malley, who served as the White House Coordinator for the Middle East under the former U.S. president.

"In that parallel universe, the Arab public probably will receive it enthusiastically", he said.

Bolton has worked at keeping the president's ear, The New York Times reported in piece on the style of Trump's top foreign policy adviser.

"We will complete the mission of taking down the last elements of the caliphate before we depart", said Pompeo, referring to ISIL.

He said Obama ignored the growth of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon to the detriment of Israel's security and not doing enough to push back on Iran-supported rebels in Yemen.

"The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over". He is also scheduled to deliver a speech at the American University of Cairo on the topic of United States involvement in the Middle East and Iran's destabilising role in the region.

As Turkey makes plans for dealing with security challenges that may emerge following the U.S. troop withdrawal, there must be constant guessing in Ankara about which USA officials should be believed versus ignored when statements from Trump's administration become contradictory, as they frequently do.

In a taped announcement distributed by the White House on December 19, Trump said the troops would be coming home "now", but he has since said that the withdrawal would be "slow and coordinated" with allies. "Israel must withdraw from the region as part of a deal that will allow the rights of all sides to be maintained".

The US is deeply suspicious of Iranian activity in the Middle East and views it as a destabilising force in the region.

He said this was particularly so in the case of Iran.

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