Mullen Launches Middle East Trip in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH, Sau­di Ara­bia, Feb. 20, 2011 — Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived here today for the first leg of a sweep through the Mid­dle East to reas­sure friends of the U.S. com­mit­ment to region­al sta­bil­i­ty, acknowl­edg­ing he’s been “stunned” by the pace of the upheaval here.
“The speed with which this has hap­pened has real­ly tak­en me aback,” Mullen said of unrest that has moved through the region, domi­no-like, in recent weeks. “And I think this speed is going to con­tin­ue.”

Mullen left Wash­ing­ton yes­ter­day to con­fer with inter­na­tion­al and U.S. offi­cials dur­ing stops in Sau­di Ara­bia, Qatar, Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates, Dji­bouti and Kuwait. Although the trip has been in the plan­ning stages for some time, he said, its nature has changed dra­mat­i­cal­ly based on the cur­rent tumult.

Talks are expect­ed to address upris­ings that have top­pled the pres­i­dents of both Tunisia and Egypt and con­tin­ue to rip­ple through the region. As dur­ing his trip last week to Israel and Jor­dan, Mullen said, he plans to “reas­sure our friends and just lis­ten to what’s on their minds” about the sit­u­a­tion and to get their views first­hand, par­tic­u­lar­ly con­cern­ing Egypt.

Mullen said he comes to the region bring­ing no mes­sage to any par­tic­u­lar group, but rather to reit­er­ate the U.S. inter­est in see­ing dif­fer­ences resolved peace­ful­ly. “We would cer­tain­ly like to see what hap­pens hap­pen in a non­vi­o­lent way,” he told reporters trav­el­ing with him.

Empha­siz­ing the impor­tance of the Gulf region, the chair­man said its sta­bil­i­ty is in everyone’s best inter­est.

Mullen has office calls sched­uled here with Prince Mohammed bin Niyif, Sau­di Arabia’s assis­tant inte­ri­or min­is­ter for secu­ri­ty affairs; Prince Miteb bin Abdul­lah, com­man­der of the Sau­di Ara­bi­an nation­al guard; Prince Khalid bin Sul­tan bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, assis­tant defense and avi­a­tion min­is­ter for mil­i­tary affairs; and Lt. Gen. Qubail, deputy chief of the gen­er­al staff.

He also will meet with U.S. Ambas­sador James Smith.

The Unit­ed States and Sau­di Ara­bia have had strong mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tions since World War II. U.S. advi­sors con­tin­ue to help in train­ing the Sau­di mil­i­tary and nation­al guard. The U.S. mil­i­tary train­ing mis­sion to Sau­di Ara­bia and a U.S. pro­gram man­agers’ office for the Sau­di Ara­bi­an nation­al guard work to help in increas­ing Sau­di mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties.

Sau­di Ara­bia is one of the largest cus­tomers for U.S. defense goods.

The trip is expect­ed to wrap up next week­end in Kuwait City, where a month-long com­mem­o­ra­tion is observ­ing the 50th anniver­sary of Kuwait’s lib­er­a­tion and the 20th anniver­sary of Oper­a­tion Desert Storm. Coali­tion forces lib­er­at­ed Kuwait from Iraqi occu­pa­tion forces on Feb. 26, 1991, at the end of Oper­a­tion Desert Storm. Iraqi forces invad­ed Kuwait Aug. 2, 1990.

The chairman’s last extend­ed vis­it to the region was in Feb­ru­ary 2010, when he made stops in Egypt, Israel, Sau­di Ara­bia, Jor­dan and the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →