US disengagement in Mideast benefits Iran, Russia: Cheney
He mentioned Trump by name only once in praising him for pulling out the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
Former US vice-president Dick Cheney warned on Monday that "American disengagement" in the Middle East will benefit only Iran and Russia, indirectly criticising President Donald Trump's pledges to pull forces out of the region.
He was speaking at a panel discussion with former Chinese foreign minister Li Zhaoxing at the 12th Arab Strategy Forum in Dubai, which was also attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
While stressing that he's no longer in government, Cheney's comments in Dubai cut to the core of several policies taken by Trump, including the sudden withdrawal of US forces from Syria.
He mentioned Trump by name only once in praising him for pulling out the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. But Cheney's backing of a muscular military response in the Mideast starkly contrasts Trump's promises to pull America from what he calls the Mideast's "blood-stained sands".
"Russia is always on standby to fill power voids. That is how it happened that Russian troops swept in when the US left northern Syria," Cheney told the Arab Strategy Forum. "To sum up that still-unfolding story: nobody will remember it as our finest hour."
Cheney said that as well as other challenges from extremist groups like Al Qaeda and the Daesh group, showing "inaction can carry even greater risk than action".
"There are some deeply malign forces at work in the broader Middle East, as well as disturbing influences from outside," Cheney said. "Disengagement is just another term for leaving all the power to them."
On Iran, he alleged that the leaders "in Tehran want most of all to acquire nuclear weapons".
The former US vice-president also called Nato "the most-formidable alliance in history".
"This post-war system has been so fundamental that it has hardly mattered year to year which political parties were in power," he added, leaving unmentioned Trump's criticism of the alliance.
As defence secretary under president George HW Bush, Cheney helped form the coalition that forced Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War.
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