An 8-by-10 colored-glossy photo, put up on the Middle East Monitor, shows U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meeting in a crowded hall with Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (aka MBS) after Pompeo’s speech at Cairo University on Jan. 11.
Secretary Pompeo is laughing at some private joke, while Mohamed bin Salman wears the smugly guilty smirk of a filthy-rich despot who knows he has gotten away with murder.
In his Cairo Speech, Pompeo had attacked former President Barack Obama’s Cairo Speech of Jan. 4, 2009, in which he promised a “new beginning” for U.S. relations with the Muslim world, inspiring the Arab Spring protests that brought a fresh wind of change to the Middle East.
By contrast, Secretary Pompeo claimed to speak bluntly and directly to say: “America is a force for good in the Middle East,” and he attacked Obama for the “wishful thinking” that believed the problem of Islamist terrorism could be solved by Muslims themselves, without a U.S. war on terrorism.
Pompeo also claimed to be a simple “military man,” and promised U.S. support for Middle Eastern regimes like the dictatorship of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the leader of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Armed Forces that ousted elected president Mohamed Morsi in a military coup d’etat on July 3, 2013 and killed hundreds of protesters at the Rabaa massacres of August 2013.
On the other hand, Pompeo rightly criticized Obama for his failure to act against the Bashar al-Assad regime’s chemical weapons attacks against Syrian civilians who had risen during Arab Spring in 2013, and for his failure to respond to the rise of the Islamic State by employing military force to protect Iraqi civilians, whether Christian, Muslim or Zoroastrian.
But by associating himself with Middle Eastern despots like General Sisi and MBS, Pompeo gave the lie to his claims to represent America as a moral force in the Middle East, especially after the exposure of MBS’s complicity in the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
After a briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel on Dec. 4, Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said: “I have zero question in my mind that the Crown Prince MBS ordered the killing, monitored the killing, knew exactly what was happening. Planned it in advance. If he (MBS) was in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes. Guilty.”
If Secretary Pompeo wishes the U.S. to be seen as a moral force in the Middle East, he should be more careful of the company he keeps. And Senator Crapo and Senator Risch should send a stronger message to the Saudi Crown Prince that America does not approve of murder, even when committed by filthy-rich princes who believe they can get away with it.
They should vote for a Senate resolution under the War Powers Act to stop the Saudi coalition from using U.S. weapons to kill civilians in the Yemeni civil war.