Tag Archives: Mike Pompeo

America to tag Israel boycott snap as ‘anti-semitic’ – Pompeo says

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The move was condemned by the international community, which does not recognise the land grab, while Syria called it a “blatant attack” on its sovereignty.

The United States will label the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which seeks to isolate Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians, as “anti-Semitic”, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, calling the movement “a cancer”.

Washington “will regard the global anti-Israel BDS campaign as anti-Semitic … We want to stand with all other nations that recognise the BDS movement for the cancer that it is,” Pompeo said in a joint appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday.

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The BDS campaign is a non-violent people-led movement that aims to economically pressure Israel into providing equal rights and a right of return to Palestinians.

Modelled on the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, it has inspired people from around the world to boycott businesses and academic and cultural institutions that have either a direct or indirect affiliation with Israel.

This includes companies associated with illegal Jewish settlements, those that provide services to the occupation, companies exploiting natural resources from Palestinian land and those that use Palestinians as cheap labour.

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The UN human rights office has identified more than 200 companies linked directly or indirectly to illegal settlements, mostly from Israel and the US but also Germany and the Netherlands.

They include banking and tourism companies, as well as construction and technology firms.

Pompeo says will visit Golan Heights
Pompeo, who is in Israel as part of his last Middle East tour as US secretary of state, also said he would visit the Golan Heights, a territory Israel captured from Syria and occupied in the 1967 war.

“Today I’ll have the chance to visit the Golan Heights,” he said in Jerusalem on Thursday – a statement that marked a break from previous US administrations’ policy.

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“The simple recognition of this as part of Israel, too, was a decision President Trump made [in 2019] that is historically important and simply a recognition of reality,” he said.

In March last year, Trump recognised the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights when he signed a decree alongside Netanyahu at the White House.

Pompeo is also expected to become the first US secretary of state ever to visit the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank on Thursday.

The expected visit to the Psagot winery would be another dramatic break by the Trump administration with the international community – which sees such settlement enterprises as illegal – and the traditional US line on the Middle East conflict.


#Newsworthy…

Any sale of Arms to Iran could attract sanctions – Pompeo warns.

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The embargo on the sale of conventional arms to Iran was due to begin expiring progressively from October 18 under terms of the UN resolution that confirmed the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said that arms sales to Iran would breach UN resolutions and result in sanctions, after Tehran said the longstanding UN embargo on arms trade with the Islamic republic had expired.

“The United States is prepared to use its domestic authorities to sanction any individual or entity that materially contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran,” Pompeo said in a statement.


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“Every nation that seeks peace and stability in the Middle East and supports the fight against terrorism should refrain from any arms transactions with Iran.”

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Tehran, which could now purchase weapons from Russia, China and elsewhere, has hailed the expiration as a diplomatic victory over its archenemy the United States, which had tried to maintain an indefinite freeze on arms sales.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal in 2018 and has unilaterally begun reimposing sanctions on Iran.

Pompeo said that “for the past 10 years, countries have refrained from selling weapons to Iran under various UN measures. Any country that now challenges this prohibition will be very clearly choosing to fuel conflict and tension over promoting peace and security.”


#Newsworthy…

Mike Pompeo set for tour amid UAE-Israel deal

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United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due in Jerusalem on Monday to start a tour focused on Israel’s normalising of ties with the UAE and pushing other Arab states to follow suit.

After meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he is set to visit senior figures in Sudan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, the State Department said Sunday.

Israel had previously only signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, two neighbours with which it had technically been at war, unlike the United Arab Emirates.

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Following the US-sponsored deal announced on August 13, the new partners say they want to promote trade, especially the sale of Emirati oil to Israel and Israeli technology to the Emirates, as well as boosting tourism by establishing direct air links.

Key to that plan would be persuading Saudi Arabia to open its airspace, between Israel and the Gulf, to Israeli commercial airlines.

During his visit, Pompeo will “discuss regional security issues related to Iran’s malicious influence (and) establishing and deepening Israel’s relationships in the region,” the State Department said in a statement.

President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, announced in January, saw cooperation between Israel and those Arab countries who, like Israel, see Iran as their main foe.

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It also gave the Jewish state a green light to annex parts of the West Bank — something Israel committed to “suspending” under the UAE deal, without saying for how long.

The Palestinians have slammed the UAE’s move as a “stab in the back” while their own conflict with the Jewish state remains unresolved.

But the UAE ambassador to Washington, writing on the front page of Israel’s top-selling daily, said closer ties would benefit everybody.

“They will help move the region beyond the ugly legacy of hostility and conflicts, towards a destiny of hope, peace and prosperity,” he wrote in Yediot Aharonot’s weekend edition.

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– F-35 in the crosshairs –

Tel Aviv daily Israel Hayom, a staunch backer of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote Sunday that direct talks between the sides on the wording of the deal were close to starting and “a full agreement could be reached within a month.”

A signing ceremony is set to be held at the White House within that timeframe, the paper wrote.

In this file photo taken on November 9, 2018 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference with Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe during the US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

Reports that the agreement hinges on the sale of US F-35 Stealth jets to the Emirates have been vigorously denied by Netanyahu, who says he opposes the move as it could reduce Israel’s regional strategic edge.

“The Emiratis are saying there was a promise there, the Israelis are saying no,” said Joshua Teitelbaum, professor in the department of Middle Eastern studies at Bar Ilan University, near Tel Aviv.

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Historically, Israel (which has F-35s) has opposed the sale of advanced weaponry to other Middle East states, even Jordan and Egypt with which it has peace treaties.

But Teitelbaum said that in the past such objections have been finessed, citing the US sale to Israel and Saudi Arabia of F-15 fighters.

“From what I understand arrangements are made that the version that the Arab country gets is not the absolute latest version,” he told AFP.

“Israel is allowed to put certain modifications in the software that allow it to maintain its edge.”

There can also be cost advantages as a sweetener, he said.

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“The Israeli F-15s and the Saudi F-15s were made in the same factory” in the US, he went on.

“The fact that Israel gave its wink to the Saudi F-15s allowed the actual price to be lowered for the Israelis, because it allowed the assembly line to run (longer) at that factory.”

– Bahrain, Oman, Sudan? –

The surprise announcement of the Israel-Emirati pact sparked huge speculation on who might be next, with frequent mentions of Bahrain and Sudan, which is turning its back on the Omar al-Bashir era.

Israel remains technically at war with Sudan, which for years supported hardline Islamist forces.

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Sudan’s foreign ministry spokesman was fired last week after he made allegedly unauthorised comments indicating contact had been made with Israel regarding normalising ties.

In this file photo taken on February 9, 2020, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP.

But the State Department said Pompeo would meet Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok during his tour, to “express support for deepening the Sudan-Israel relationship”,

He will also meet Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa before meeting UAE foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan to discuss the Israel deal, it said.

Saudi Arabia, in keeping with decades of policy by the majority of Arab states, has said it will not follow the UAE’s example until Israel has signed a peace deal with the Palestinians.


#Newsworthy…

United States bid to extend Iran arms embargo rejected.

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Crisis looms as UNSC overwhelmingly rejects US resolution to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran.


The United Nations Security Council has resoundingly rejected a bid by the United States to extend a global arms embargo on Iran.

In the Security Council vote on Friday, Washington got support only from the Dominican Republic for its resolution to indefinitely extend the embargo, leaving it far short of the minimum nine “yes” votes required for adoption.

Palestinians slam ‘traitor’ UAE for normalising
Eleven members on the 15-member body, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, abstained.

Russia and China strongly opposed extending the 13-year ban, which was due to expire on October 18 under a 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and six world powers.

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Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, announced the defeat of the resolution ahead of a very brief virtual council meeting to reveal the vote.

“The Security Council’s failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable,” he said in a statement.

Israel and the six Arab Gulf nations who supported the extension “know Iran will spread even greater chaos and destruction if the embargo expires”, Pompeo said, “but the Security Council chose to ignore them”.

Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the UN, said in a statement that the result “once again shows that unilateralism receives no support and bullying will fail”.

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Washington could now follow through on a threat to trigger a return of all UN sanctions on Iran using a provision in the nuclear deal, known as snapback, even though US President Donald Trump had unilaterally abandoned the accord in 2018. On Thursday, the US had circulated to council members a six-page memo outlining why Washington remains a participant in the nuclear accord and still has the right to use the snapback provision.

In a statement after the vote, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said Washington has “every right to initiate” the snapback mechanism, and added: “In the coming days, the United States will follow through on that promise to stop at nothing to extend the arms embargo.”

The 13-year embargo is due to expire on October 18, under a 2015 deal curbing Iran’s nuclear programme [Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP]

‘Diplomatic catastrophe’
Reporting from New York, NRM learnt the US’s defeat on Friday was not a surprise.

“But it’s a surprise that the US bid failed so miserably,” she said.

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“Any party to the nuclear accord could trigger the ‘snapback’ provision if Iran is seen to be in violation of the accord. But Russia and China say the US’s withdrawal from the deal two years ago means it has forfeited its right to do that. Other members of the council would seem to agree,” she said.

“The Europeans have expressed some misgivings about conventional weapons going into Iran. But at the end of the day, they say their concern about a nuclear weapon is paramount.”

Under the deal, Iran agreed to limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief and other benefits. Following the US withdrawal and imposition of unilateral sanctions, Tehran has already scaled back compliance with parts of the accord. Diplomats have said triggering the “snapback” provision would put the fragile agreement further at risk because Iran would lose a major incentive for limiting its nuclear activities.

Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi warned Washington against trying to trigger a return of sanctions.

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“Imposition of any sanctions or restrictions on Iran by the Security Council will be met severely by Iran and our options are not limited. And the United States and any entity which may assist it or acquiesce in its illegal behavior will bear the full responsibility,” he said in a statement.

Jarret Blanc, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) the US’s failed bid amounted to a “diplomatic catastrophe”.

“It demonstrates that President Donald Trump and his team are not only bad at the strategy of approaching Iran, they are bad at the day to day tactics of diplomacy. It is unconscionable that the US couldn’t round up more than one vote for a resolution like this.”

But some analysts said they suspect that Washington put forward a hardline draft purposefully, knowing that council members would not be able to accept it.

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“The fact is that everybody at the UN believes this [resolution] is just a prelude to a US effort to trigger snapback and sink the Iranian nuclear deal,” Richard Gowan, a UN expert at the International Crisis Group, told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media)

While voting on the US draft resolution was under way, Russia said its President Vladimir Putin called for a meeting of leaders of the five permanent members of the Security Council along with Germany and Iran to avoid escalation over US attempts to extend the Iranian arms embargo.

In statement released by the Kremlin, Putin said “the question is urgent”, adding that the goal of the videoconference would be “to outline steps to avoid confrontation and exacerbation of the situation in the UN Security Council”.

“If the leaders are fundamentally ready for a conversation, we propose to promptly coordinate the agenda,” Putin said. “The alternative is to further build up tension, to increase the risk of conflict. This development must be avoided.”

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Asked if he would take part, Trump told reporters: “I hear there’s something, but I haven’t been told of it yet.”

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office confirmed France’s “availability in principle” to Putin’s proposal. “We have in the past deployed initiatives in the same spirit,” it said.

Jarret Blanc, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, called the US’s failed bid a “diplomatic catastrophe”.

“It demonstrates that President Donald Trump and his team are not only bad at the strategy of approaching Iran, they are bad at the day to day tactics of diplomacy. It is unconscionable that it couldn’t round up more than one vote for a resolution like this.”


#Newsworthy…

Donald Trump Sacks Linick Over Pompeo’s Probe. [United States]


U.S. President Donald Trump has sacked State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.

It was Trump’s latest abrupt dismissal of an official tasked with monitoring wrongdoing inside a government agency.

A Democratic lawmaker said Linick was sacked by Trump for opening investigation on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The lawmaker Eliot Engel accused Trump of committing a potentially illegal act of retribution.

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“Mr. Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation,” said Eliot Engel, who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

A Democratic congressional aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Linick was probing complaints that Pompeo misused a political appointee to perform personal tasks for himself and his wife.

Washington’s top diplomat has raised eyebrows for frequently traveling the world on his government plane with his wife Susan Pompeo, who has no official role.

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Media reported last year that a whistleblower had complained that Diplomatic Security, which guards US missions overseas as well as the secretary of state, had been assigned questionable tasks for the Pompeos such as picking up the family dog and takeout food.

The State Department confirmed Linick’s firing but did not comment on the reason or on whether Pompeo was under investigation.

A State Department spokesperson said the new inspector general will be Stephen Akard, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence from his home state of Indiana.

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Akard since last year has led the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions, which handles relations with diplomats in the United States.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Linick was “punished for honourably performing his duty to protect the Constitution and our national security.”

“The president must cease his pattern of reprisal and retaliation against the public servants who are working to keep Americans safe, particularly during this time of global emergency,” Pelosi said.

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Pompeo is one of Trump’s most trusted aides — and a rare one never to come publicly into the crosshairs of the mercurial president.

In recent months Pompeo has moved US foreign policy forcefully to the right — encouraging a drone strike that killed a top Iranian general and promoting a theory, discounted by mainstream scientists, that the COVID-19 pandemic originated in a Chinese laboratory.

Pompeo, 56, is widely seen as entertaining presidential ambitions of his own.

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But he has frustrated some Republican colleagues who want him to quit and return to his state of Kansas to run in November for a Senate seat that is looking surprisingly vulnerable for the party.

Linick, a longtime prosecutor, was appointed in 2013 by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama to oversee the $70 billion juggernaut of US diplomacy.


#Newsworthy…

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Mike Pompeo Defends US Global Role

West is winning


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday rejected European pessimism about Washington’s retreat from the global stage, saying the death of the transatlantic bond is “grossly overexaggerated”.

“The West is winning and we’re winning together,” Pompeo said at the Munich Security Conference.


The annual gathering of world leaders, generals and diplomats to discuss security challenges has been dominated by fears of diminishing Western influence in the face of a more assertive China and Russia.

Pompeo spoke a day after German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier suggested the United States rejected “even the idea of an international community” and was acting “at the expense of neighbours and partners”.


“Those statements don’t reflect reality. I’m happy to report that the death of the transatlantic alliance is grossly over-exaggerated,” Pompeo said, paraphrasing a famous Mark Twain quote.

He said Washington played a key role in keeping Europe safe by reinforcing NATO’s eastern flank on the border with Russia, and had led a multinational effort to defeat the Islamic State jihadist group.


“Is this an America that ‘rejects the international community’?” he asked.

“The free West has a brighter future than illiberal alternatives.”


He also warned of the threats posed by Russia’s territorial ambitions, China’s military buildup in the South China Sea and Iran’s “campaigns of terror” through proxy conflicts in the Middle East.

In a nod to concerns about European reliance on Russian natural gas, Pompeo also announced that the US would finance energy projects in eastern EU countries.


“The United States –- through our International Development Finance Corporation, and with the support of the US Congress -– intends to provide up to $1 billion in financing to the Central and Eastern European countries of the Three Seas Initiative,” Pompeo told the conference.

“Our aim is to galvanise private sector investment in their energy sectors.”

The pledge comes amid fierce US opposition to Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, set to double the country’s gas shipments to Germany.

Washington believes the pipeline will give Russia too much influence over security and economic issues in western Europe.


#Newsworthy…