Skip to main content

Pompeo pick pleases Abu Dhabi

United Arab Emirates officials see a shift at the US State Department in their favor, but are unlikely to see all their hopes realized under Mike Pompeo.
FILE PHOTO: A combination photo shows U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 8, 2018, and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., February 13, 2018 respectively.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (L) Aaron P. Bernstein (R) - RC1850892B00
Read in 

US President Donald Trump’s decision to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo came at a time of major foreign policy challenges for Washington. As America’s chief diplomat, Pompeo will have to address several sensitive dilemmas in the Middle East, including the Qatar crisis and Washington’s difficult relations with Turkey and Iran. His nomination is producing optimism in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that America’s positions regarding Doha, Ankara and Tehran will shift in a direction that is more favorable to Abu Dhabi.

Pompeo’s record is staunchly anti-Islamist, which appeals to the UAE. As a US lawmaker, Pompeo co-sponsored the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2015, which identified the movement as a terrorist organization and linked three US-based Islamic groups — the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic Trust — to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. (The bill did not make it out of committee.) In 2014, the UAE designated CAIR and the Muslim American Society as terrorist organizations, underscoring a narrative that certain Islamic organizations in America have terrorist connections. Ultimately, given Pompeo’s strong opposition to such US-based groups, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, it is possible that Pompeo will be far less keen than Tillerson to pressure the Saudi/UAE-led bloc to tone down its rhetoric about Qatar’s alleged sponsorship of terrorism and to ease or lift the blockade.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.