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Pompeo Makes Last Minute Trip to Middle East, with Stops in Saudi Arabia and UAE

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Pompeo Makes Last Minute Trip to Middle East, with Stops in Saudi Arabia and UAE

2019-09-18 18:02:43

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Mike Pompeo (Image source: Screenshot)

There doesn't seem to be any area of the Middle East right now that is completely settled. Every country in the region seems to be on the outs with at least one other country and sometimes more. And with Donald Trump's moves while in office, he seems to have thrust the United States right into the middle of it.

Perhaps because of this, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is making a last-minute trip to the Middle East with stops that include Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 

Cranking up the tension in the region, this weekend two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia were hit with a drone attack knocking out half of the country's oil supply. Iran has denied any responsibility, while the Houthi rebels in Yemen have taken credit.

U.S. intelligence doesn't believe the strikes came from the direction of Yemen, and the Saudis believe the weaponry can be traced back to Iran. 

There are two major incidents going on, and things will not return to normal until they both are solved. For one, there is a civil war going on in Yemen with Iran backing the Houthis and Saudi Arabia siding with the other. It's a civil war that's involving three countries.

Additionally, there is the trouble that is being caused by Donald Trump pulling out of the nuclear pact last year that it had with Iran and some other countries that are not in the Middle East. With all that strife already going on in the region, Donald Trump pulled this major power play with Iran and threw everything into further chaos. 

Of course, there was also the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi one year ago. A Saudi national, he was killed in an effort that many intelligence groups believe was organized by top officials in the kingdom. To pull yet another country in, it happened at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Perhaps this makes it good timing that former national security adviser John Bolton was removed from office. He was known to push for certain things from Iran.  

Robert C. O'Brien, the U.S. hostage negotiator, replaced him, which could be exactly what the region needs, someone to negotiate peace with everyone before there are more major wars started.

Yet, it's Pompeo who was tapped to fly to the Middle East on Wednesday, after Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. stated Iran will never enter into one-on-one talks with the U.S. 

"All the officials in the Islamic Republic unanimously believe that there will be no negotiations at any level with the United States," said the supreme leader in comments on his website.

Also headed to the Middle East will be U.S. forensics experts who are being sent to Saudi Arabia to help investigate where the projectiles that hit the oil fields originated. The kingdom may ask the U.N. Security Council to condemn Iran if it's determined they are responsible. 

"We do see a role for the U.N. Security Council to play, a senior administration official said Tuesday. Saudi Arabia "was attacked, and it would be appropriate for them to call upon the council. But we first need to gather the releasable information."

Pompeo's visit to the region will allow him to discuss how to respond to Iran's aggression, as well as the country's support for the Houthis. 

He'll meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi city of Jiddah, as they discuss the recent attack on the oil fields.

He'll then move on to Abu Dhabi to meet with the emirate's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. The UAE's foreign minister has referred to the oil field attack as a "dangerous escalation" and believes it doesn't have anything to do with the war in Yemen. 

If the U.S. agrees to return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran and the other nations, Khamenei said it could be part of the negotiations with Iran and the other nations in the agreement.

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