Mr. Hagel became the US Defense Secretary two months ago, and this is his second tour at this post. The first one was also to a region which is currently very unstable – Afghanistan.
It is only natural that during his current tour, Mr. Hagel visited Israel first of all. Israel is the closest partner of the US in the entire Middle Eastern region.
However, Chuck Hagel probably has some unpleasant reminiscences linked with Israel. When Congress was viewing his candidature for the post of the Defense Secretary two months ago, some congressmen accused him of an anti-Israeli position. Mr. Hagel had to acknowledge some of his former anti-Israeli statements as "mistakes” and apologize for them. He was appointed the Defense Secretary only after that.
However, this incident is now a thing of the past. No one recollected it during Mr. Hagel’s recent visit to Israel. Now, Chuck Hagel calls Israel one of the US’s main friends and partners. As a confirmation of that, the US is going to deliver new interceptor missiles, radar planes and transport planes to Israel for the total sum of $ 3 bln in a year. During his visit, Mr. Hagel said that the US is going to render any help to Israel to keep Israel the strongest country in the Middle East from a military point of view.
This phrase of the US Defense Secretary was obviously meant to be heard by Iran. During his talks in Israel, Mr. Hagel attached much attention to the Iranian issue. He said that the US will by no means let Iran possess nuclear weapons – even if a military attack against Iran is required for this, although, of course, the US would prefer a peaceful solution to this problem.
In fact, there is nothing new in Mr. Hagel’s statement. US top officials have made similar statements before.
Now, the US Defense Secretary is planning to visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. After Israel, these two countries are the US’s closest partners in the Middle East, and the US is ready to render military aid to them as well. The United Arab Emirates want to buy more than 20 US "F-16” battle planes and several latest generation US air-to-ground missiles. Saudi Arabia also wants to buy such missiles. It is planned that within the next few years, the US will sell military equipment to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia for the total sum of $ 10 bln.
Besides the supplies of US weapons and the Iranian issue, Mr. Hagel’s talks in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will also touch upon the situation in Syria.