In remarks to congress, Secretary Pompeo described "three vital missions" for the U.S. in Yemen, the first of which "is to assist the Saudis and the Emiratis in their fight against Iranian-backed Huthi fighters". "Iran", suggested Pompeo, "wants to establish a version of Lebanese Hizbollah on the Arabian Peninsula so the mullahs in Tehran can control seaborne trade through strategic waterways like the Bab al-Mandab Strait... the U.S. interest in this first mission is to counter Iran's regional ambitions and to help our allies and partners protect themselves". Citing the defeat of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as a second goal, Pompeo then described the third objective as "protect[ing] Americans working in Saudi Arabia or transiting the strategic waterways around Yemen". "All we would achieve from an American drawdown", argued Pompeo, "is a stronger Iran and a reinvigorated ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula".
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