The State Department says Pompeo will discuss the “need to counter the Iranian regime’s destabilizing behavior in the region.”
By World Israel News Staff
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to visit Israel on Friday as part of a regional tour aimed at ending the crisis over Turkey’s military campaign against the Kurds in Syria after President Donald Trump decided to pull U.S. troops from Syria last week.
Vice President Mike Pence and Pompeo arrived in Turkey on Thursday.
“They are tasked with securing a cease-fire agreement from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose forces have invaded northeastern Syria to attack the Kurds,” reports USA Today.
Israel has been included in the itinerary to assuage Israeli fears over the fate of the Kurds.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last Thursday that he “strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies.”
However, the Israeli concerns are also centered around the potential for Iranian exploitation of the situation in Syria to reinforce the Islamic Republic’s presence near the Jewish State’s northern border.
Back in January, the U.S. had announced “the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria,” after Trump had made the same argument that ISIS had been defeated.
Netanyahu launched a campaign to slow and reduce the extent of the withdrawal.
The president dispatched then-national security adviser John Bolton to calm Israel’s concerns that Washington was abandoning the Syrian front.
Even without the latest development, Syria has been a quagmire that has prompted the Israeli premier to nurture a relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has navigated among different sides fighting within Syria even as Trump has looked for a way out of what he says is not America’s fight.
Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed that “Israel will not allow Iran, which calls for our destruction, to entrench on our border.”
Pompeo will “travel to Jerusalem on October 18 where he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss developments in Syria and the continued need to counter the Iranian regime’s destabilizing behavior in the region,” said a U.S. State Department announcement.
“Later that day, the Secretary will travel to Brussels, Belgium, where he will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss Transatlantic security issues and U.S. goals for the upcoming NATO Foreign Ministerial and Leaders Meeting,” said the U.S. statement.
Trump has imposed economic sanctions on Turkey for its bombardment of the Kurds. Ankara is a member of NATO.