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CIA Director Calls Assad ‘Puppet of the Iranians’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo/Photo: AFP

London- CIA Director Mike Pompeo has launched a scathing attack on Iran, accusing it of adopting an expansionist policy to pursue regional hegemony and dubbing the head of the Syrian regime a “puppet of the Iranians.”

The defeat of ISIS is America’s top priority at the moment, Pompeo said Thursday but he mentioned Iran as one of the US enemies in Syria.

“Today you have Iran extending its boundary, extending its reach, now making an effort to cross the borders and link up from Iraq,” Pompeo said. “It’s a very dangerous threat to the United States. Just yesterday, one more time we learned that Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, and they now have a significant foothold in Syria.”

He said the Trump administration is working on ways to push back against Iran, which wants to be a “kingpin” in the Middle East.

The CIA director spoke in a wide-ranging conversation at the Aspen Security Forum, an annual gathering of intelligence and national security officials and experts in Aspen, Colorado.

Lebanon’s “Hezbollah is but one of example of Iranians” using proxies, he said, adding that Tehran has proxies in Yemen and Iraq.

All these elements constitute a threat to Gulf states, Israel and American’s interest, he said.

He said it’s difficult to imagine a stable Syria with the head of the regime, Bashar Assad, still in power. He called Assad a “puppet of the Iranians.”

Russia will stay in Syria, he said, because it loves its naval port in Tartus. “They have an intention to remain there.”

Asked if there was any evidence Russia has pursued a serious strategy against ISIS, instead of concentrating its fire on the more “moderate” opponents of the Assad regime, Pompeo bluntly answered “No.”

Turning to the nuclear deal with Iran, Pompeo said that although the State Department has certified continued Iranian compliance with the JCPOA, the Trump administration remains committed to pushing back against Tehran in many areas.

The deal “was designed to foster stability and have Iran become a re-entrant to the Western world, and the agreement simply hasn’t achieved that,” he added.