Hagel Reassures Persian Gulf, Middle East U.S. Allies

Peace and Freedom

By David Alexander

MANAMA

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gestures as he speaks to military servicemembers aboard the USS Ponce in Manama December 6, 2013. REUTERS-Mark Wilson-Pool

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gestures as he speaks to military servicemembers aboard the USS Ponce in Manama December 6, 2013.  Credit: Reuters/Mark Wilson/Pool

MANAMA (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel toured an anti-mine warfare ship in the U.S. Fifth Fleet on Friday to underscore U.S. commitment to Middle East security despite policy differences over Iran and Syria that have angered Washington’s longtime Gulf allies.

His visit to Bahrain, in which he will also speak at the Manama Dialogue security conference, came at a time of regional unease over President Barack Obama’s policies ranging from the cautious U.S. response to Syria’s civil war to the six world powers’ interim deal with Iran on its nuclear program.

The warship he toured, the USS Ponce, is to be equipped in 2014 with a new Navy laser weapon designed to deter aircraft and missiles as well as attacks by swarms…

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