This comes after Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned Washington and its allies that Tehran is ready for an all-out war if the US or Saudi Arabia strikes Iran.
“We are still striving to build out a coalition in an act of diplomacy while the Foreign Minister of Iran is threatening all-out war and to fight to the last American, we are here to build up a coalition aimed at achieving peace”, Pompeo told reporters following talks with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi.
The United States has accused Iran of carrying out drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure last week, which heavily disrupted the kingdom’s oil production. Tehran has repeatedly denied any involvement while Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility.
“We don't want war, we don't want to engage in a military confrontation”, Zarif told CNN on Thursday. “But we won't blink to defend our territory”, he added.
Tehran also said that the US and Saudi Arabia are blaming Iran as they are too embarrassed to acknowledge that Yemeni rebels are capable of carrying out such an attack.
Amid the rising tensions and threatening statements, Pompeo made a quick trip to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
But despite Pompeo toning down his heated rhetoric on Iran during his trip and his assistant saying in a Pentagon briefing on Thursday that with regard to Iran Washington’s “goal is to deter conflict and to put this back on the diplomatic path”. After Pompeo’s visit, the UAE and Saudi Arabia both announced that they would be joining the US-led maritime coalition aimed at protecting international shipping in and near the Strait of Hormuz.
“The US is trying to contain the differences and rivalries among Gulf allies in the region: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar. The US driving principle is to re-establish a cohesive anti-Iranian block, while at the moment the three countries behave according to contrasting agendas, in Yemen, in the Red Sea, in the Horn of Africa, in Libya, in the Eastern Mediterranean”, says Lorenzo Trombetta, a journalist and scholar specialising in the Middle East.
At the same time, Trombetta believes that this coalition won't radically change the situation in the region:
“Each country tries to find alliances in order to protect its interests. The formation of this coalition is in continuity line with the past and recent moves from the US and Saudi Arabia in the region against ‘terrorism’, and ‘maritime security’”, the scholar noted.
For his part, Turkish political scientist Dr Birol Baskan called the US secretary of state’s trip “theatrical”:
“I do not expect any concrete outcome from Pompeo's visit to Abu Dhabi. It is going to be just another business-as-usual type. Or as the Turkish saying goes, 'let friends see us in action’. Yet, there is no action. The visit is more theatrical. I am not even sure what the sides really want to achieve”, the political scientist concluded.
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