In a speech on Saturday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin attempted to reassure people in the Middle East that President Biden is still dedicated to the area. However, Washington is mainly focusing on combating China.
The effect of Austin’s address to allies in the Middle East was unknown. That’s because it was not accompanied by any pronouncements of more deployments or new arms deals in the region at the time.
“America’s commitment to security in the Middle East is strong and secure,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told a security forum in Bahrain https://t.co/PJT7Umb7mS
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) November 20, 2021
Gulf Arab governments, which are highly reliant on the United States military umbrella, voiced concern about Biden’s attention to the area, particularly in light of the US exit from Afghanistan and the US’ reluctant attitude towards Yemen’s Houthis.
Biden has expressed confidence in the region. They are keeping a close eye on efforts to resurrect a nuclear agreement with Iran amongst major world countries.
The Known Strength of the United States
Speaking in Bahrain on a trip to the Gulf, Austin recognized regional and global concerns that the US was primarily focused on China’s challenge. In his remarks, Austin stated, “Let’s be clear: America’s dedication to stability in the Middle East is firm and certain.”
He went on to say the United States remained dedicated to fighting Iran, even as the country sought to resurrect the nuclear deal signed in 2015.
Austin stated they are dedicated to a diplomatic solution. However, if Iran is unwilling to engage in a meaningful manner, the United States will consider all available measures to ensure the security of the United States.
The Pentagon chief declared the United States would participate in good faith in the indirect discussions about renewing the pact on Nov. 29 when they take place.
He went on to say, despite this, Iran’s actions in recent months have not been promising, particularly in light of the country’s advancement of its nuclear program.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, America’s top defense official, has vowed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and to counter its “dangerous use” of suicide drones in the wider Mideast. https://t.co/H1wPiVFTJQ
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 20, 2021
It has been requested that Gulf Arab governments be involved in the discussions and any agreement should address Iran’s ballistic missile development and destabilizing behavior in the area.
Tactics for Exiting
Biden’s administration is considering a more widespread redeployment of US military personnel from the Middle East to other regions. However, the United States has a significant presence at sites around the region.
Austin stated both allies and adversaries are aware the United States is capable of deploying extreme firepower at any time and in any location of its discretion. Experts are still skeptical of the United States’ commitment to the Middle East.
According to Jon Alterman of the Washington-based CSIS think tank, there is widespread disappointment that America will soon wash its hands of these issues. Also, he isn’t convinced messaging adequately addresses the sense of imminent American departure.
Requesting anonymity, a senior US defense official stated Austin was not expected to make any fresh deployments in the region during his visit. A major source of frustration for Saudi Arabia, one of the United States’ closest regional allies, has been Biden’s policies.
In recent months, the Biden administration has been exerting pressure on Saudi Arabia to improve its human rights record. Austin was scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia in September, but the trip was delayed at the last minute, due to scheduling conflicts.