TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran's Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif on Thursday countered U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's claims that "when America retreats, chaos often follows," saying actually the opposite is true.
"Whenever/wherever U.S. interferes, chaos, repression, and resentment follow,” Zarif tweeted on Thursday in response to Pompeo's remarks in Egypt which raised eyebrows in the United States and abroad.
Pompeo described the U.S. as a "force for good” in the Middle East in a speech at the American University in Cairo, which contradicted President Donald Trump's announcement last month to pull troops out of the region.
Pompeo accused former U.S. president Barack Obama of having sowed chaos by abandoning the Middle East.
"We learned that when America retreats, chaos often follows. When we neglect our friends, resentment builds. And when we partner with our enemies, they advance,” he said.
"The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over. And so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering. Now comes the real new beginning,” Pompeo added.
Trump last month announced that he had ordered staff to execute the "full" and "rapid" withdrawal of U.S. military from Syria. While that decision’s timing is unclear, it is widely seen as abandoning the region.
Pompeo, however, said the U.S. withdrawal from Syria was not "a change of mission."
"Let me be clear: America will not retreat until the terror fight is over," he said, adding, "For our part, our airstrikes in the region will continue as targets arise," he added.
Pompeo’s speech drew immediate criticism from Middle East experts as well as officials who served under Obama.
"It feels a little bit as if the approach is to ‘talk loudly and carry a small stick,’” said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.
In his rambling speech, Pompeo also spoke extensively of the U.S. "campaign to stop Iran's malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world."
He said U.S. economic sanctions against Iran were "the strongest in history, and will keep getting tougher until Iran starts behaving like a normal country."
In his Thursday tweet, Zarif said, "The day Iran mimics U.S. clients & @SecPompeo’s ‘human rights models’ — be it the Shah or current butchers — to become a ‘normal’ country is the day hell freezes over. Best for the U.S. to just get over loss of Iran.”
Iran was a key ally of the U.S. in the Middle East before the 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the Pahlavi monarchy led by Muhammad Reza Shah.
Earlier during a press conference in Cairo, Pompeo said, "America has always been a liberating force, not an occupying power, in the Middle East. We've never dreamed of domination.”
He said Washington would work with allies to "expel every last Iranian boot" from Syria.
Iran has been lending military advisory support to the Syrian government in its fight against foreign-backed terrorists.
The United States, instead, has been in Syria since 2014 under the pretext of confronting the Daesh terrorist group without the request of the Syrian government or a UN mandate.
Damascus considers the U.S. and its allies as invaders with ulterior motives, saying they are in fact assisting terrorists and destabilizing the country.
Pompeo brought the Trump administration's anti-Iran message to Persian Gulf Arab states Friday, arriving in Bahrain to continue a nine-nation tour of the Middle East aimed at reassuring them that Washington was not abandoning the region.
In Bahrain, the UAE and later Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait, Pompeo will call for increasing pressure on Iran and promote a U.S.-backed initiative to form what some have termed an "Arab NATO”, reports said.
The United States also plans to jointly host a summit focused on the Middle East, particularly Iran, next month in Poland, the U.S. State Department said Friday.
The gathering will take place in Warsaw from Feb. 13 to Feb. 14, it said in a statement.
Pompeo told Fox News in an interview that the meeting would "focus on Middle East stability and peace and freedom and security here in this region, and that includes an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence."
Pompeo said the meeting would "bring together dozens of countries from all around the world, from Asia, from Africa, from Western Hemisphere countries, Europe too, the Middle East of course."