HEADLINES:

Pompeo to visit eight Middle Eastern countries next week

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (AFP/File)
2019-01-04

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SULAIMANI — The US State Department announced Friday (January 4) that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to eight Middle Eastern countries next week to address regional issues.

Between January 8 and 15, he will visit Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait.

The trip will come shortly after President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement that the US will be withdrawing its troops from Syria, a topic that the State Department says will be discussed during several of Pompeo’s stops.

It also comes shortly after National Security Advisor John Bolton’s visit to Turkey and Israel this weekend to discuss Trump’s new Syria policy.

Notably absent from either itinerary is Iraq, which Trump controversially visited over the Christmas holiday. Trump was criticized both in Iraq and at home for failing to meet with Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi in a major breach of protocol and for revealing the identities of a Special Forces unit.

According to a press statement from the State Department, other topics that Pompeo is due to raise include Iran, Gaza, counterterrorism, the war in Yemen, the dispute between Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents at the country’s consulate in Istanbul.

US intelligence agencies have concluded the crown prince ordered an operation to kill Khashoggi, whose body was dismembered and removed from the building to a location still publicly unknown. Top Turkish officials have also tied his death to the highest levels of Saudi leadership, according to Reuters.

Saudi officials have denied accusations that the prince ordered the murder.

(NRT Digital Media)