Few US officials have been as focused on Iran as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, writes Suzanne Kianpour of the BBC. For him, the conflict is personal.
In early 2016, the first-term Kansas congressman personally left his Iranian travel visa application, which he had addressed to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
He and two other Republicans of the House of Representatives had arrived in black cars at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, headquarters of the diplomatic interests section of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the absence of official relations with the United States.
The objectives of the congressmen were ambitious.
They wanted to go to Tehran to monitor Iran’s parliamentary elections, visit nuclear sites, hold meetings with senior Iranian officials, meet American prisoners, receive information about the country’s ballistic missile program and more.
Naturally, the men did not pass the lobby, much less enter Iran, but Pompeo had sent a clear message: I have you guarded.
- Mike Pompeo – Trump’s loyal diplomat
A year later, the now junior congressman had played his political cards well and quickly rose in rank, securing a plum job in the Trump administration as head of US spies.
An Iranian official joked that in retrospect they wished the embassy had issued him a travel visa. “We could have had the CIA director in Tehran!”
During his six years as a congressman, Pompeo had a defining pet project: getting to the bottom of the 2012 insurgent raid at the US complex in Benghazi, Libya, which killed US ambassador Christopher Stevens.
He was one of the Republicans who led the charge of punishing the then Democratic presidential candidate and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom he blamed for not doing more to rescue the convicted ambassador and three other US officials who were also killed.
But he was also attentive to the Islamic Revolution Guard Corporation of Iran (IRGC).
As a member of the Permanent Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives, Pompeo regularly called on US intelligence agents to discuss the Quds Force and Qasem Soleimani.
He has focused on Soleimani personally for years.
Then, when the opportunity to cut Soleimani’s scalp was presented, Pompeo was one of those who advised Trump to take it, despite knowing that it could lead to war and the activation of Iranian terrorist cells throughout the world.
Concerns about Iran’s proxy militias had prevented former US presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush from killing Soleimani.
The decision to attack the Iranian general was twofold for Pompeo.
The prevention of another raid in Benghazi after the US embassy in Baghdad was raped at the end of December became large. But revenge against the IRGC dates back to his time at the American military academy in West Point.
During the time that Pompeo was a cadet from 1982 to 1986, tensions with Iran and its Hezbollah representative in Lebanon were high.
The Cold War was still going on and Pompeo was sent to Germany to serve as an officer of the US Army. UU.
- Who are the winners in the Iran crisis?
- Islamic State celebrates the murder of Soleimani
At that time, 241 US marines and sailors died in an attack against the US embassy. UU. In Beirut, where the kidnappings were also rampant.
The Soviet threat was existential, but for a young Pompeo, the most immediate emerging threat was Iran and its representatives.
Fast forward 35 years later, the United States has taken the most significant blow to that threat to date.
“It’s great for Pompeo because he convinced the president of how important Qasem Soleimani is,” says Michael Pregent, a former US Army intelligence officer who served in Iraq and recently testified before Congress about the level of influence Soleimani He had in Iraq.
“Take out the Iranian Navy [or] a nuclear site; none of that equals Qasem Soleimani. “
“That is the biggest guy you can get out of ayatollah,” says Pregent, who has informed Secretary Pompeo several times about the Quds Force.
Taking out Soleimani gives Baghdad the chance to get away from Iranian influence, and possibly gives the secretary of state a diplomatic and military victory.
But Pompeo is much more than secretary of state, says a former assistant principal.
Steve Bannon, the intellectual author of Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election and former White House advisor, says he also plays the role of de facto defense secretary, national security advisor and also head of the CIA.
President Trump does not have the same relationship with officials in those roles as with his secretary of state.
The close relationship that Pompeo has with Trump was discovered by Bannon, who says that Pompeo was elected as director of the CIA shortly after election day in 2016 due to his well thought out ideas about national security, especially with respect to Iran.
On Trump’s first weekend as president, both Bannon and Pompeo had a private conversation while watching Trump deliver a speech at the CIA headquarters in Virginia while fighting a battle in the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria.
The US special forces were supporting fighters trying to recover the ancient city of ISIS at that time. The Quds Force was also present in Palmira, which 3,000 years ago had served as a transit station between the Romans and the Partia Empire (which was Iranian).
Later, the Roman and Persian empires went to war.
“It hasn’t changed. We’re the Romans,” Bannon joked. It was in this conversation that Bannon asked Pompeo to personally deliver the ultra-classified daily presidential intelligence briefing.
“He needs someone with whom he can identify,” Bannon told the future senior US diplomat.
Bannon says that the Christian evangelical faith of Pompeo also plays a role in his views on Iran. He is a supporter of Israel, a rival of Iran.
Privately, Iranian officials appear to have a fixation on Pompeo and recognition that, of the Trump administration’s knives that were outside the regime, theirs were among the sharpest.
Pompeo recently flirted with running for the Senate, but decided not to, and instead remains secretary of state during a time of intense global tensions that many fear can still lead to war.
- Pompeo: Trump sent by God to save Israel
- Why do evangelicals support Trump in Jerusalem?
People informed about the matter expect to see the White House double over the sanctions and the application of sanctions.
The ultimate goal is to return Iran to the negotiating table.
“There must be an effective and complete JCPOA [nuclear deal] 2.0 that covers Iran’s regional activities, proxies, missile programs and includes a regional voice on the table this time, “he says
Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in the USA UU., Yousef al Otaiba.
There is little doubt that Pompeo will one day run for president. But until then, it will remain a thorn on the side of Iran as the administration’s maximum pressure campaign continues to bring the regime to its knees.