US defense secretary bound for West Asia to meet with regional leaders
The visit aims to reaffirm regional allies of the US's commitment to security and economic development
By News Desk - March 01 2023

(Photo Credit: AFP)

The US government disclosed on 28 February that its Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, is set to travel to West Asia to meet with regional leaders and US troops this coming weekend.

According to a statement by the Pentagon, the defense secretary’s visit to the region aims to reassure regional allies of the United States’s commitments in terms of security and economic development. 

Analysts claim that the visit will build on Washington’s efforts to encourage West Asian states to cooperate on a security level, including air defense and navy collaboration, specifically with the aim to isolate the Islamic Republic of Iran. 

Austin’s trip is considered one of the most important ones since his last visit to Bahrain in November 2021, where he was tasked to convince regional allies of US security guarantees despite the recent military withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The planned trip falls in line with recent developments in Israel and Palestine, where violence gripped the streets in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem following deadly raids by the Israeli military and settlers.

Under the Trump administration, the US pushed its regional allies, such as the UAE and Bahrain, to normalize relations with Israel under the Abraham Accords in 2020. This opened the door for the normalization of relations with other regional states as well, such as Saudi Arabia, which increased its efforts to establish relations with Israel. 

On 20 February, the UAE and Israel unveiled their first jointly developed unmanned naval vessel, which signifies Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi’s efforts to bolster security cooperation.

The vessel was unveiled at the Naval Defense and Maritime Security Exhibition (NAVDEX) in Abu Dhabi and was developed by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Emirati defense firm EDGE.

A few days prior, Bloomberg reported that US-backed talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia to develop closer military and intelligence ties are intensifying.

However, the Saudi monarchy has demanded that any normalization of relations be contingent upon implementing a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

In January, top Saudi diplomat Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud said, “True normalization and true stability will only come through … giving the Palestinians a state,” on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos. 

Most Popular