On the evening of Tuesday, 15 September, SIA’s Dr. John Bruni joined The Atlantic Council’s Zoominar, “A Conversation with US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo.”
This was not a particularly long or in-depth discussion because the US Secretary of State was on his way to the White House to witness sign-off to the Abraham Accords Declaration between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The key point raised by Pompeo on the Middle East were:
- Iran and Turkey are uneasy about the Abraham Accords Declaration. Iran, because it believes that the Israeli-Gulf Arab pact is aimed at them and Turkey because it may effect its consolidating ties with Qatar since that country’s split with fellow Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) members
- Qatar, while isolated from the rest of the GCC by its internal dispute with its GCC members has taken the initiative on attempting to broker a lasting peace settlement between the Taliban in Afghanistan and the United States
- Iran continues to be weakened with many Iraqi Shia now working against Iranian influence
As was expected, the US Secretary of State publicly declared his loyalty to the Trump administration and spoke well of its foreign policy initiatives stating that Trump’s initiatives in the Middle East and against China would be the administration’s lasting legacy.
On China, Pompeo observed:
- The Trump administration successfully rallied its traditional allies against the People’s Republic
- That the American job’s being ‘stolen’ by China cannot continue
- That there are weaknesses in China’s position in Africa, saying that Chinese strategic/commercial policies were ‘falling flat’ there
- That technological competition with the PRC will continue to colour Sino-US relations in the near-term. And while Western alternatives in the telecommunications sector would be more expensive to Huawei’s 5G networks, this would be a cost Western countries would bear in order to secure its overall telecommunications networks from the possibility of Chinese interference
- That while no-one has a sense on how Sino-US relations will unfold in coming month/years, Pompeo was confident that China’s experiment with “communism” will fail, suggesting that in the medium to long term the CCP will either fall or transform into a less totalitarian political form
- And finally that both in Iran and the People’s Republic, there is a Human Right’s Crisis, with what is happening to the Uyghur peoples in northwest China described as “the crime of the century”
Elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific context, the US Secretary of State expressed optimism on the Trump administration’s outreach to North Korea, promising further developments in this relationship.
At the end of his address, Michael R. Pompeo stated that he and President Trump were “of a single mind” and that he, as Secretary of State speaks on behalf of the president.