Simon Henderson is the Baker fellow and director of the Bernstein Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at The Washington Institute, specializing in energy matters and the conservative Arab states of the Persian Gulf.
Articles & Testimony
The whirlwind tour could yield some surprises, but substantial positive outcomes will be hard to come by without clear, unified messaging from the administration.
What’s up with Secretary Pompeo’s extended tour of the Middle East? The short answer is that he is trying to sell/explain President Trump’s “we are leaving Syria” policy to America’s friends. None of these countries’ primary concern is Syria, as such. They are all much more interested in Iran’s influence and military activities there. The main elements of the trip were clearly being planned in advance of President Trump’s decision. There is a speech planned for Cairo, an annual bilateral strategic dialogue with Qatar, and another with Kuwait. But the fact that there now are eight stops in eight days probably reflects the amount of explaining that needs to be done...