On his recent trip to the Middles East, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made clear that Saudi Arabia’s security is a priority for the United States.
Chief among security concerns is Iran. It destabilizes the entire region through its support for proxy militias and terrorist groups. Iran, said Mr. Pompeo, is the “greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world, and we are determined to make sure it never possesses a nuclear weapon.”
In Yemen, Iran continues to support the violent Houthi rebels by providing military equipment, funding, and training, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The Houthis continue to fire missiles into Saudi Arabia, targeting Red Sea shipping and threatening the Saudi people.
While the U.S. will continue to assist Saudi Arabia with its defense needs and support its right to defend its own borders, a political solution is the only way to advance long-term stability in Yemen. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia agreed to support the new UN envoy’s efforts to advance a political settlement that ends the civil war.
The political and security vacuum created by the conflict, as well as deteriorating humanitarian conditions, have also been exploited in Yemen by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and by ISIS. When these groups are given safe haven, the U.S. homeland is at risk.
It is critical that Muslim majority countries take the lead in combating terrorism and radicalization around the world. “America is prepared to stand with Saudi Arabia in pursuit of the shared interests and security,” said Mr. Pompeo, “but as President Trump has said. . .the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush terrorism for them. Muslim nations must be willing to take on that burden.”
“If we’re going to conquer extremism and defeat the forces of terrorism together,” said Secretary Pompeo, “. . .we all must honestly confront the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires, and this does indeed mean standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.”
The United States strongly supports Saudi Arabia’s vision for 2030 and the reform agenda which promotes tolerance, respect, and economic development, and the empowerment of women.