On his way to Riyadh Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the terrorist regime that continued attacks on U.S. interests in the region will not be tolerated. “I never broadcast what our response may be in advance but we’re mindful that it cannot become ordinary course that the Iranians, through their proxy forces in Iraq, putting the lives of Americans at risk. This can’t be ordinary. This can’t be routine. There in the end has to be accountability connected to those serious attacks,” Pompeo told reporters on his plane. “I’ve been tracking it. Our teams are tracking it. Department of Defense is tracking it, too.”
In recent days rocket and artillery attacks have been launched against U.S. targets in Iraq, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and a coalition base. The pattern of behavior and type of attacks point directly to Iran as the culprit. In January, three rockets hit the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad. In December, an American contractor was killed.
Citing an imminent threat, the United States removed leading global terrorist and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps General Qasem Soleimani from the battlefield on January 3. Soleimani was visiting Iranian-backed Iraqi official and terrorist Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis when he was killed by a drone strike outside of Baghdad International Airport.
In addition to addressing recent aggression, Pompeo responded to comments made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani over the weekend. During a conference in Iran, Rouhani said the country will not come back to the table for talks until the U.S. backs off of its maximum pressure campaign. “We’re prepared to talk at anytime but they’ve got to fundamentally change their behavior. That’s what we’ve asked for consistently for three years now of the Trump administration. We’ve laid down the outlines of what that would look like, the 12 points, the things they have to do, but they’re really common sense,” Pompeo said in response to a question asked by Townhall. “You can’t build out your nuclear program, you can’t foment terror around the world, even today you were just talking about this attack in Iraq, extraterritorial kinetic activity. Just unacceptable.”
“And finally the missile program back in a place where they are permitted to defend themselves but no more than that and the human rights violations. The fact that they are still detaining Europeans and Americans unlawfully is unacceptable,” he continued. “When they’re prepared to come to the table to talk about those so are we. We’re standing by. We’re not anxious, we’re not rushed. The pressure campaign continues. It’s not just an economic pressure campaign. It’s diplomatic pressure, it’s isolation through diplomacy as well and you’ve seen to make sure we have the resources in place to deter their attacks further.”
Over the next two days, Pompeo will meet with Saudi Arabian officials to discuss the ongoing security challenge of Iran, in addition to other local and regional issues. He will then travel to Oman to meet with new Sultan Haitham bin Tariq.