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In Mideast, Mike Pompeo seeks global coalition against Iran but also holds door open for Tehran talks

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday he wants to build a global coalition against Iran during urgent consultations in the Middle East, following a week of crisis that saw the United States pull back from the brink of a military strike on Iran. Pompeo said his first stop is Saudi Arabia, followed by the United Arab Emirates. Both U.S. allies work to counter Iran's influence in the region. "We'll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe, that understands this challenge as it is prepared to push back against the world's largest state sponsor of terror," he said about Iran. But even as Pompeo delivered his tough talk, he echoed President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in saying the U.S. is prepared to negotiate with Iran, without preconditions, in a bid to ease tensions that have been mounting ever since Trump withdrew the U.S. from a global nuclear deal with Iran and began pressuring Tehran with economic sanctions.

Yemen's Houthi rebels strike Saudi airport ahead of Mike Pompeo visit

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - One person was killed and seven others were wounded in an attack by Iranian-allied Yemeni rebels on an airport in the kingdom Sunday evening as U.S. Secretary of State was on his way to the country for talks on Iran, Saudi Arabia said. Regional tensions have flared in recent days, The U.S. abruptly called off military strikes against Iran in response to the shooting down of an unmanned American surveillance drone. The Trump administration has vowed to combine a "maximum pressure" campaign of economic sanctions with a buildup of American forces in the region, following the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. A new set of U.S. sanctions on Iran are expected to be announced Monday. The Sunday attack by the Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis, targeted the Saudi airport in Abha.

Tension in the Middle East: The Groundwork Is Laid for a Vast New Conflict

Der Spiegel International

In normal times, the Officers Club on Riyadh's King Abdul Aziz Road is a rather secretive place. But last Wednesday evening, there was a line of visitors snaking away from its door. Arabic could be heard, along with English and a few fragments of French. After the security inspection, visitors enter a darkened hallway, reminiscent of a movie theater, that lead to a lecture hall: blue plush seats in ascending rows facing a brightly lit wood-paneled stage. It is generally a place where senior military officers gather to discuss their secret plans, but last week, it played host to around 80 diplomats and several international journalists, there at the invitation of the world's most important oil exporting nation. Among them were high-ranking officials in flowing robes. It was a rather unique event: The Saudi military was putting its wounds on display to the world.

U.S. to send troops to Saudi Arabia and hold off on striking Iran

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon on Friday announced it will deploy additional U.S. troops and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as President Donald Trump has at least for now put off any immediate military strike on Iran in response to the attack on the Saudi oil industry. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Pentagon reporters this is a first step to beef up security and he would not rule out additional moves down the road. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more details about the deployment will be determined in the coming days, but it would not involve thousands of U.S. troops. Other officials said the U.S. deployment would likely be in the hundreds and the defensive equipment heading to the Middle East would probably include Patriot missile batteries and possibly enhanced radars. The announcement reflected Trump's comments earlier in the day when he told reporters that showing restraint "shows far more strength" than launching military strikes and he wanted to avoid an all-out war with Iran.

Judith Miller: Trump sends Iran a message with military moves in the Middle East -- let's hope Iran hears him

FOX News

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Iran could be planning a possible attack on US forces in the Middle East; national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reports from the Pentagon. Soon after the White House announced Sunday that it was sending an aircraft carrier strike group and Air Force bombers to the Middle East, the Twittersphere erupted with anxious posts about whether the redeployment means that the U.S. is preparing to strike Iran. As evidence, critics have cited both the harsh tone of the message and the identity of the messenger. The statement announcing the redeployment – military movements that are only rarely disclosed in advance – not only cautioned Iran that any Iranian-backed attack on American "interests or on those of our allies" in the region would be met by "unrelenting force," it was delivered by National Security Adviser John R. Bolton, a known hawk who has pushed hard for aggressive action against the Islamic Republic. Monday, officials said that the decision to deploy the U.S.S.