The Manama Dialogue: New American Messages to Resolve the Regional Issues

Published by: Radwa Ramadan El-Sherif

Every year in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Manama Dialogue takes place. It is a one-of-a-kind platform for government officials and corporate leaders to discuss and debate the Middle East’s most serious security issues. In addition, the institute is a worldwide research organization that provides objective data on military, geopolitical, and geo-economic events that potentially can result in conflict. The institute organizes IISS Manama Dialogue, which is currently happening in Bahrain now.

The summit this year tackled plenary sessions on US Defense Policy in the Middle East, Gulf, and Asia, diplomacy and deterrence, multilateralism and regional security, conflict resolution in the region, security dynamics in the Red Sea, militias, missiles, and nuclear proliferation will be held during the conference.

The summit aimed to shed light on the need to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, and to demand Iran to stop its destabilizing practice of the region, to stop its threats to the security of maritime traffic, its sponsorship and support for terrorism and armed militias, to put an end to its ballistic missile program, and to clear the Middle East of weapons mass destruction.

New American messages

On the sidelines of the summit agenda, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin delivered his speech under the title “The United States’ Defense Policies in the Middle East”, during which he sent very important messages to America’s allies, and to other countries in the Middle East, and among the most important of these messages were:

  • American commitment

 During his speech, Austin stressed America’s commitment to defending the Middle East security in light of the common threat) facing the region and facing the challenges of the 21st century, which he identified in four points: (The Corona pandemic, climate change, terrorism, and Iran’s support for terrorism.)

And about the Iranian danger and the Iranian nuclear negotiations, which topped the list of conference discussions, Austin stressed that his country will return to the negotiating table in good faith, adding that Washington is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and stressed that if Iran wants to return to the international community, it must return to international standards, noting That the American options will be open, in the event of the failure of diplomatic solutions.

Austin stressed that the threats of Iran and its proxies are wide-ranging, stressing the need to work together to jointly defend the security of the region. To deter any direct Iranian aggression or through its proxies, as well as a commitment not to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

  • Strengthening ties and strengthening the security system

Austin also stressed during his speech the need to strengthen partnerships and strengthen and support ties between countries, through joint exercises and exchange of information in order to fully deter the challenges of the 21st century, especially cross-border challenges, disrupt terrorist networks, and maintain the stability of navigation, as cyberspace was one of the axes of words Austin, whose country caught fire after cyber-attacks from Russia and Iran.

America’s Situation toward Arab issues

During his speech, Austin highlighted several important Arab issues, with regard to (the American withdrawal from Iraq); He stressed America’s commitment to defending Iraq’s sovereignty against any party trying to violate it, and stressed that there would be no American withdrawal from Iraq next year, as Washington would study any request for assistance from the Iraqi government outside of training missions.

It is noteworthy that the US will maintain about 2,500 soldiers currently in Iraq beyond the date of December 31. These forces will continue to provide intelligence support and advice to the Iraqi forces in their campaign against ISIS, according to what was agreed upon in the strategic dialogue between the two countries, and that the US forces will not carry out any combat missions after the mentioned date.

In his speech, Austin also touched on the (Lebanese crisis), emphasizing the support of the Lebanese people to get out of the difficult time, and to continue working to advance towards the (two-state solution) between Palestine and Israel.

As for the (Yemen conflict), Austin stressed his country’s continued support for the Yemeni people against the Houthis, and the need to stop their suffering. He also stressed the US support for the Saudi-led coalition forces in the face of Houthi militia attacks in Yemen.

 It seems that the US, after absorbing the shock of its faltering withdrawal from Afghanistan, has begun to reformulate its strategy in the region. The Afghan crisis demonstrated the importance of partnerships. After its withdrawal from Afghanistan, America is still committed to its old security commitments.

After the US realized the importance of the region and the direct impact it has on the balance of global power and the levels of economy and growth, the new American strategy will focus on two complementary points: (The American commitment to the regional security and joint cooperation).

The current US administration believes in diplomacy as the (first line of defense), but it has become aware that the Iranian threat has become increasing, and it is at the forefront of the dangers facing the region, despite its prior optimism about the Iranian nuclear agreement. Iran does not show any willingness to participate seriously in returning to the Iranian nuclear agreement.

Iran’s practices in the Gulf waters or through its proxies increase the possibility of miscalculation, which prompts Washington to think carefully about how to use force in a way that sends a strong signal to Tehran without leading to a slide into a conventional conflict. So, it is expected that America will adopt a flexible strategy based on the idea of ​​having bases without large numbers of forces on the ground, and when there is a threat, this base will change from a fixed situation to a changing one, and will be a starting point for defending its interests and allies in the region.

In conclusion, the agenda of this year’s summit included discussing the regional and international security issues that have the most impact on the region, which is of great importance to many countries and peoples that suffer from conflicts or face extremism and terrorism, and are looking forward to quick joint international solutions and positions that end their suffering and incurred from Disastrous effects on its stability, economy, and development.


Perhaps the most prominent point that was observed during the conference sessions is the agreement of all the attendees of hundreds of leaders, politicians, and soldiers from Gulf, Arab, Asian, European and American countries, that the Iranian project carries with it the dangers of its consequences, especially that Tehran is approaching the point of no return to revive the nuclear agreement after it has boosted its stockpile of enriched uranium before talks resume this month. Even if sanctions on Iran are lifted, it is unlikely to back off from its regional influence.

Iran has always asserted that its nuclear program is peaceful, but in fact, it is lying to the world, as it raised the rate of uranium enrichment to 60% last April, while later hinting at its ability to enrich uranium to 90%, and this makes it one step closer to making a nuclear bomb, according to the US intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency reports.

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