Manama, Bahrain Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was among top US officials who spoke at last weekend’s Manama Dialogue about the US commitment to standing with Iran, but his words were met with skepticism.
why it matters: In public sessions and private conversations, several Arab and Israeli participants discussed the notion that the US was leaving the region and not projecting enough power to deter Iran.
Running news: AUSTIN, Iran’s envoy Rob Malle and White House Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk sought to dispel this notion, emphasizing that the US is prepared to use other means if diplomacy with Iran fails. and it is not turning away from the Middle East or abandoning its allies.
- He faced multiple interference from officials, experts and journalists in the audience who questioned the resolve and credibility of the Biden administration.
- A senior US defense official expressed dismay to me that Austin had to face many different versions of the same skeptical questions.
What are they saying: The Pentagon official argued that US commitment should not be measured in terms of military numbers.
- Instead, the administration is trying to create a new framework based on security cooperation between countries in the region, the official said.
What will happen next: The senior Pentagon official told me that there will be more joint military exercises between the US, Israel and Arab countries, including combating drones, which have become the weapon of choice for Iran and its proxies.
- “We want to increase this security cooperation so that when needed we know how to work together. It will benefit everyone. And yes, in addition to our diplomatic efforts on returning to the nuclear deal, those joint exercises are one Iran.” Way to send a signal to the US,” the Pentagon official said.