Pompeo’s “New Beginning” a Return to Unconditional Support for Repression

In response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech from American University in Cairo, Brian Dooley, senior advisor at Human Rights First, issued the following statement:

Secretary of State Pompeo’s speech in Cairo was even worse than anticipated concerning human rights. The speech was focused largely on correcting the perceived shortcomings of U.S. policy under the previous administration, yet simply doubled-down on blanket U.S. support for the authoritarian regimes that have driven decades of instability in the Middle East.

Pompeo is, unfortunately, deluded if he thinks America is regarded as a force for good in the region. Rather, many people largely see the United States as arming and enabling the violent dictatorships that rule them. Pompeo made no mention of the Egyptian government’s current targeting of human rights activists, or of how torture in jails is driving prisoners into the arms of ISIS. He said nothing about how Egyptian President Sisi is about to change the constitution and to try and install himself as president for life. He said nothing about how the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen has repeatedly violated international law, and is driving the worst humanitarian crisis in decades.   

Pompeo’s “new beginning” sounds more like a return to the unconditional support for repressive regimes of the 1970s and 80s. It was bad policy then, and it remains bad policy now.  The appropriate response to this speech is for Congress to continue to limit the Trump Administration’s ability to put weapons sales and friendly relations with dictators above human lives and U.S. interests.

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