Carter Arrives in Baghdad on Middle East Swing

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has spent the week crisscrossing the Middle East meeting with close US allies to discuss regional security challenges following the historic P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran. The trip, which has long been in the works, comes at a “very important moment” in the aftermath of the agreement with Tehran, Carter told reporters en route to Tel Aviv, Israel, earlier this week. Carter participated in a series of meetings with officials in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan before making a surprise stop in Baghdad, Iraq, on July 23. In Israel, he vowed to continue support for the Iron Dome air defense system and to provide the Israelis “advanced capabilities,” such as the F-35, which Israel will begin operating next year. In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on July 22, Carter met with King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, where he affirmed the “long-time security partnership” between the US and the Saudis and discussed the state of the anti-ISIS campaign, as well as “checking Iranian destabilizing activities in the region.” Carter vowed the US will deepen cooperation in several areas, such as “integrating air and missile defense systems,” before traveling to Amman the same day to meet with Jordanian officials.