US Secretary of State Pompeo meets Iraqi Speaker in Baghdad

Pompeo Visits Middle East to Increase Pressure on Iran

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The pullout, which Washington has since stressed will be gradual, was hailed by Erdogan as the "right call" in a column published Tuesday in the New York Times.

CBS News senior national security correspondent David Martin reported in December, after President Trump announced his intention to pull all USA forces out of Syria, that the Kurdish forces are holding an estimated 700 foreign combatants. "But this isn't a change of mission", he said.

As he arrived in Egypt, the State Department described the country as a "steadfast partner in the anti-terror fight, and a courageous voice in denouncing the radical Islamist ideology that fuels it".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo drew the wrath of the Turkish leadership last week when he said Washington would ensure "the Turks don't slaughter the Kurds" in Syria as American troops withdraw.

America's Kurdish allies in Syria, now fretting over when the Trump administration will pull out the 2,000 USA troops who guarantee their safety, said Wednesday that they had apprehended an American teenager fighting with ISIS.

Most American forces were withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, after years of political squabbling following the US invasion in 2003.

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Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are touring the Middle East, seeking to explain the policy and elicit support.

The secretary began his address in Cairo by blasting the Obama administration for "falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East".

"What did we learn from all this?" He added that an immediate withdrawal of United States forces from Syria would serve the interests of the Arab country.

"Whenever/wherever United States interferes, chaos, repression & resentment follow", Zarif wrote on Twitter. The demand, which Bolton said came from Trump, immediately drew criticism from Turkish officials.Bolton concluded his visit to Turkey with more than two hours of discussions with officials Tuesday, but without meeting Erdogan.National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said Erdogan called Bolton's Turkish counterpart, Ibrahim Kalın, during their meeting and told him to send his regards to Bolton.

"The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over. Now comes the real new beginning", Pompeo added.

Kalin said talks with Bolton focused on how the USA would collect the weapons that were given to Kurdish militias fighting Daesh as well as the future of US bases in Syria.He said he handed over two dossiers to Bolton, one on Turkish help to Kurdish populations in Iraq and Syria, the other on the Kurdish militias' "criminal activities and human rights violations".

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He committed to ongoing airstrikes against Isis but did not directly address Trump's decision to withdraw 2,000 U.S. ground forces from eastern Syria.

Those demands include allowing unlimited worldwide inspections of Iran's nuclear program, halting Tehran's support for Hezbollah and other militant groups in the region, withdrawing all Iranian military forces from Syria, and releasing all USA citizens being detained in the Islamic Republic, among other steps. To do so, Turkey would vet the Syrian Kurds who fought with the US against ISIS and include those "with no links to terrorist organizations in the new stabilization force", Erdogan wrote."Only a diverse body can serve all Syrian citizens and bring law and order to various parts of the country", he wrote.

The US would "use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot" from Syria and bolster efforts "to bring peace and stability to the long-suffering Syrian people", he said.

But there are rising concerns that USA policy is getting bogged down. This is yet another objective a continued troop presence will not achieve, especially considering how much more important Syria, Iran's longest standing Arab ally, is to Tehran than it is to the United States.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Pompeo met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, on the third leg of his Middle East tour. He said their meeting was "productive".

Ahead of his visit to Saudi Arabia in the coming days, Pompeo is also expected to confirm the strength of the US alliance with Saudi Arabia, despite the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi whose murder was blamed on the powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman by the US Senate.

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