Requiem for Trump Doctrine: Is this Pompeo’s last MidEast tour? – analysis

This is a 10-day trip. It’s almost 20% of the time Pompeo has left in office.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses a news conference at the State Department in Washington, US, April 7, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/LEAH MILLIS)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses a news conference at the State Department in Washington, US, April 7, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/LEAH MILLIS)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is coming to the region this week and it may be his last major trip here. It could also be a kind of requiem for the Trump Doctrine.
US President Donald Trump had only the foundations of a doctrine, one that combined transactional diplomacy, personal demands, isolationism and attempts to rewrite his predecessor, Barack Obama’s policies. Pompeo was the main person who handled the policy, one of the few who has stayed on in the administration since 2017.
He has made several high-profile trips to the region and has generally used these trips to send a signal about where US interests are and who America’s real friends and allies are.
In the first years, these trips would have included more of Turkey, but Ankara has become increasingly hostile to the US and to Israel. It buys Russia’s S-400 and has threatened Israel and hosted Hamas terrorist leaders. Pompeo signaled displeasure through visits to Greece and Cyprus this year, and the trip won’t include a meeting with high-level Turkish officials.
Now Pompeo is traveling to France, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia from November 13 to 23. Unless there is a surprise trip to Iraq, as there was in 2019, or a trip to Sudan, as there was in the past, the trip is straightforward. Jordan and Egypt are absent; they are allies the US takes for granted. They need the US, but the US doesn’t seem to need much from them at the moment, although they are key partners.
Why France? It is a key partner in battles against ISIS and extremists in the Sahel in Africa. It is also a partner in the Mediterranean, and it has challenged Turkey’s aggression. In Georgia, Pompeo will probably discuss the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict and Russia’s brokering of a ceasefire.
Pompeo isn’t going to Baku, which is a message, as he’s not going to broker any peace deal, apparently. This US administration likes peace deals for Israel, but has been slow to push peace elsewhere. It can’t even seem to get the Taliban to stop attacks long enough to get US forces out of Kabul.  
The big message of the visit to Israel and the UAE and then Saudi Arabia is the recent peace deal between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE, and the US wants to cement this relationship. The Trump administration is also refusing to concede the US election, and Trump appears to be ripping apart the Defense Department after Mark Esper was fired. It’s a good time for Pompeo to be out of town. He was pressured about the lack of concession to President-elect Biden. Now, like Nixon’s trip to Egypt in 1974, this US administration is going to a region where it may be liked more than it is at home.
This is a 10-day trip. It’s almost 20% of the time Pompeo has left in office, so that’s a lot of days. In France, he will meet President Emmanuel Macron, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian “and other senior officials, to build on our transatlantic work on economic and security matters, and on counterterrorism and global threats,” the US State Department said.
In Turkey, Pompeo will meet the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, to discuss religious issues in Turkey and the region and to “promote our strong stance on religious freedom around the world.”
This is a big symbol and there won’t be any kowtowing to Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, or his inner circle, who often bash the US in media. No more appeasement, apparently.
Turkey has long slammed the US, accused it of working with terrorists, detained US service members, a consulate employee and a pastor. Harassing US citizens and attacking US interests and partners have become Turkey’s way of doing business.
In Georgia, Pompeo will meet the president and prime minister and “express our support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, to urge further progress in democratic reforms. He will also meet with the patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Ilia II.”
The highlight will be support for the Israel-UAE Abraham Accords. He will meet Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and discuss security cooperation and the new F-35 sales. He will then go to Qatar, which is a partner with the US and helping with Afghan peace talks.
“The secretary’s final stop will be in Saudi Arabia, where he will meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” the statement says.
This is an important trip, and it will be interesting to see how he is received in Turkey. The ruling party in Turkey has been hostile to Biden but also now dislikes Trump. It tried to buy up influence in Washington and lobby the Trump administration, but its increasing extremism has harmed its image even among those in the US administration who used to believe appeasement would work.
With James Jeffrey, the pro-Turkey Syria envoy, now out of Pompeo’s team, some of the most pro-Ankara voices are diminished. A red carpet for Hamas terrorists seems to have been one of the last straws for Pompeo.  
It will be surprising if Pompeo can achieve more deals in the region, as countries here now must weigh their reception of him with the incoming administration. His comments on November 10 about a second Trump administration, even though said in jest, angered some in the US and they didn’t matter that much in the region, but his visit will be watched carefully.