March 8, 2023 | Flash Brief

Secretary of Defense Austin Visits Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and Israel

March 8, 2023 | Flash Brief

Secretary of Defense Austin Visits Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and Israel

Latest Developments

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is scheduled to visit Israel tomorrow after trips to Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt this week. Originally slated to visit Israel today, Austin reportedly delayed and truncated the trip due to protests there related to the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul. Austin seeks to reassure America’s partners in the Middle East that the Biden administration remains committed to the region and determined to address growing threats from Iran.

Expert Analysis

“Austin deserves credit for visiting the region and saying many of the right things, but Israelis and many of America’s Arab partners seek greater assurances that the administration will back words with actions when it comes to ensuring Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.” — Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“In response to real concerns regarding Iran, Austin should stress the importance of creating an inclusive regional security architecture in the Middle East to push back against Iran’s malign activities.” — Ryan Brobst, Research Analyst at FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

Visits to Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt

On Sunday in Jordan, Austin met with King Abdullah II and discussed “security in nearby Iraq, the flow of illegal narcotics in the region, Syria, the escalating tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and working towards a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” according to the Pentagon.

In Iraq on Tuesday, Austin reaffirmed U.S. support for a “secure, stable, and sovereign Iraq,” a goal that the Islamic Republic of Iran does not share. Tehran views the U.S. military presence in Iraq as an obstacle in its efforts to subordinate Baghdad and create the kind of control in Iraq that Iran enjoys in Lebanon. In an important show of support, Austin also met with Kurdistan Regional Government leaders in Erbil.

In Egypt today, Austin met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. “The U.S.-Egypt defense partnership is an essential pillar of our commitment to this region,” Austin tweeted.

U.S.-Israel Strategic Consultative Group Meeting

Austin’s visit to Israel follows a meeting at the White House of the U.S.-Israel Strategic Consultative Group, which was led by U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi. A joint statement from the meeting noted significant shared concern regarding “advances in Iran’s nuclear program” and pledged to enhance coordinated measures to prevent Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon and deter Tehran’s other “hostile regional activities.” The statement also noted a mutual objective to further enhance the U.S.-Israel security partnership. The participants reviewed combined military exercises between the United States and Israel and discussed efforts to “deepen Israel’s security and political integration into the Middle East region.”

Related Analysis

Strategy for a New Comprehensive U.S. Policy on Iran,” edited by Mark Dubowitz and Orde Kittrie.

With an Eye on Adversaries, the U.S. and Israel Conduct Major Military Exercise,” by Bradley Bowman and Ryan Brobst


Arab Politics Egypt Israel Jordan Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy