In the city where President Obama apologized to the Muslim world for previous American conduct, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to put the Obama administration in the rear-view mirror.
“The days of self-inflicted American shame is over,” Pompeo told Egyptian leaders in Cairo on Thursday at the American University in Cairo amid a Middle East tour.
Seeking to bolster relations with Middle East allies, Pompeo already has been to Jordan and Iraq.
In Cairo, the secretary of state said the previous U.S. administration was absent when power in Egypt was seized by the Muslim Brotherhood in the wake of the so-called “Arab Spring.”
Pompeo, referring to Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech without mentioning his name, said “it was here, in this city, another American stood before you” and “told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from ideology.”
“He told you that 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East,” Pompeo said.
“He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed ‘a new beginning.’ The results of these misjudgments have been dire.”
A “timid” Obama administration, Pompeo said, “grossly underestimated the tenacity and viciousness of radical Islamism.”
And it did nothing as Iranian citizens took to the streets against their mullah-led regime.
He criticized the 2015 Iran nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew.
“Our eagerness to address only Muslims, not nations, ignored the rich diversity of the Middle East, and frayed old bonds. It undermined the concept of the nation-state, the building block of international stability,” Pompeo said. “And our desire for peace at any cost led us to strike a deal with Iran, our common enemy.”
He described America as a force for good in the Middle East, noting success against ISIS and the development of a coalition against Iran, among other things.
“The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering. Now comes the real ‘new beginning,'” he said.
Pompeo addressed concern from some allies about the U.S. decision to withdraw from Syria.
“Our aim is to partner with our friends and vigorously oppose our enemies, because a strong, secure and economically viable Middle East is in our national interest – and yours,” he said.
“Let me be clear: America will not retreat until the terror fight is over.”