U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center walks with Vice Adm. James Malloy, commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet, after a tour of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command center in Manama, Bahrain, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Image Credit: AP

Manama: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stressed the Trump administration’s anti-Iran message in his talks with King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa in Bahrain, the first of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries on his Middle East tour.

The State Department this week said that Bahrain “is a staunch supporter of countering Iran’s malign efforts and works in close coordination with the United States to expose and counter Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) proxies.”

“Bahrain continues efforts to investigate and counter Iranian sanctions evasion and combat illicit maritime activity,” the statement said.

Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said the talks between King Hamad and Pompeo addressed critical priorities, including counterterrorism, Yemen, and countering the Iranian regime’s dangerous activities.

The meeting, attended by Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa and Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa. discussed realising the Middle East Strategic Alliance, anchored by a united Gulf Cooperation Council, to stand against the Iranian regime’s malign influence and advance the prosperity, security, and stability of the region, Palladino added in his statement.

“The leaders agreed on the importance of all parties continuing to work with UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths toward a comprehensive political solution to the conflict in Yemen,” he said.

Pompeo thanked the King, the Crown Prince, and the Foreign Minister for Bahrain’s continued friendship and strategic partnership with the United States and expressed his gratitude for the role Manama plays, particularly through hosting the United States Fifth Fleet, and in supporting a variety of regional priorities.

“The leaders discussed Bahrain’s support for religious coexistence and freedom of religion, and the conclusion of parliamentary elections, including the election of the first female Speaker of the Council of Representatives.” Palladino said.

Pompeo is due to visit all GCC countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — as part of his tour that has also taken him to Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

The State Department said the US is committed to advancing its strong partnerships with the Gulf.

“These Gulf partnerships are critical to achieving shared regional objectives: defeating ISIS (Daesh), countering radical Islamist terrorism, protecting global energy supplies, and rolling back Iranian aggression,” it said in a statement.

“The Gulf countries are all partners in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS (Daesh) campaign and have contributed billions of dollars in aid to Syria and Iraq.

According to the State Department, a united GCC is the backbone for regional peace, prosperity, security, and stability, and is essential to countering the single greatest threat to regional stability: the Iranian regime.

The Department said the UAE “works in close coordination with the US to target illicit financing schemes that benefit the Iranian regime,” whereas “Saudi Arabia works in close coordination with the US to counter the expansion of Iranian presence and influence in the region.”

Kuwait closely monitors compliance with Iran sanctions and works in cooperation with the US to combat sanctions evasion, Oman cooperates with the US to combat sanctions evasion and illicit material transfers and Qatar has taken important steps to comply with Iran sanctions, the Department said.

“Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and Oman were instrumental in arranging the recent, UN-led political consultations on Yemen in Sweden.”