In his January 10, 2019 speech at the American University in Cairo, delivered during a two-day visit to Egypt as part of his Middle East tour, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo compared the policies of the Trump and Obama administrations, stating that the latter had erred in its Middle East policies, including in its response to the events in Egypt and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. Under the Trump administration, on the other hand, the U.S. has reasserted its traditional role as a force for good in the region and as a liberating, rather than occupying force, unlike Iran and ISIS, Pompeo said.
The responses to Pompeo's visit and speech in the Egyptian press were mixed. Some articles called the visit "one of the most successful" in the history of the relations between the two countries. These writers said that Pompeo's speech and his acknowledgement of the previous administration's mistakes vis-à-vis Egypt had been honest and clear, while emphasizing Egypt's right to an independent position in its relations with the U.S. Other articles were harshly critical of America's conduct and skeptical of its intentions, and challenged it to demonstrate its honesty through actions.
Especially harsh in its criticism was an article by Egyptian journalist Khaled Razzaq in the establishment daily Akhbar Al-Yawm, which called Pompeo an "idiot," President Trump "a lunatic" and the U.S. "the most hostile and criminal country in human history." He wrote that Pompeo's speech had been full of lies and arrogance, and that Pompeo apparently expects the Arabs to ignore America's role as a hostile occupying force that has "sown death and destruction" in Arab countries.
The following are translated excerpts from Razzaq's article:
Pompeo with Egyptian President 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi (image: Al-Ahram, Egypt, January 11, 2018)
"U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared at the American University in Cairo on Thursday [January 10, 2019], and simply stood up and stated that his country is a force for good in the Middle East region and has never been an occupying power. The Secretary of State of the most hostile and criminal country in human history then continued his speech, assuming that delivering it in Cairo would lend him credibility to the extent that he could explain the American stance against terror and decide for us and for the world how we should deal with the problems in our region, and with whom we are permitted or forbidden to cooperate.
"With barefaced arrogance, Pompeo expects us to disregard our recent history and even our present, with all the aggressive, unjustified wars that his country has waged against us while deviating from every international standard, human norm and rule of international relations. [Wars waged] in Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, as well as the wide-scale, destructive and unjust war in Iraq, which ended with [this country] occupied and torn, and later the attack and occupation of Syria, which is still ongoing. [Pompeo wants] us to regard all the death and destruction that his country has sown on our lands and among us as an American act of kindness toward our region.
"The truth is that I don't understand where senior officials of the American government and [of other] Western [countries] acquire this amazing ability to pretend to be fools and to treat us like morons who can forget about the blood of our people that has been and continues to be spilled, and forget our beloved lands which lie in ruins due to their unjust wars against us.
"The reason for this may be that [some] countries in the region cooperate with the U.S. and its allies in these wars, while the rest of our countries have remained silent in the face of [the crimes] committed by the world's most arrogant and violent forces. The reason may be that audacity, false boasting and the distortion of facts are innate [Americans] traits. Most likely, it is all these factors – as well as other, more despicable factors that dominate international relations in our world today – that enabled Pompeo to openly declare these lies and, what's more, to do so in Cairo, the heart of the Arab nation.
"It was not only the falsehoods uttered by the U.S. Secretary of State that attracted attention to his speech, delivered in a small, closed hall at the university that bears his country's name. The idiot didn't even adhere to the rules of diplomacy, but declared, from our country, hostile positions toward Syria, while threatening that Trump is prepared to launch more military campaigns against it and also against Iran, and while demanding that the world avoid cooperating with the Iranian regime and join the U.S. in implementing the sanctions against it... He [also] spoke of the importance of Arab normalization with the Zionist entity, and called for what he called political unity between Egypt, Jordan and his country – when in fact he meant subjugation. This is a Zionist prescription written out for us by a representative of the pro-Zionist American administration, [a prescription] that could only be concocted in the minds of madmen in a government headed by a lunatic."