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Hagel: American-Saudi Relations Are Crucial for Middle East’s Future | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Chuck Hagel

London- In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the former US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel answered the questions with extreme audacity and openness, based on realistic reasons.

His deep knowledge and interest in the Middle East, since he was a member in the Senate, allowed him to speak from a responsible and official position.

Chuck Hagel left his position on February 2015, yet because of his views, analyses, follow-up and wisdom, he remained the source many people rely on to know new developments.

From a volunteer in Vietnam’s war into a commander of an infantry division in this war, he started gaining his wide military experience.

Hagel told Asharq Al-Awsat that the strategic relationship between Saudi Arabia and USA is essential for the future of the Middle East as the integration between the two countries’ institutions is crucial to defend the region and its security.

He stressed that the common interests between the two parties are bringing them closer. “We are trying to find solutions and answers for the challenges and risks we are facing, not only in the Middle Est but also in Europe as the number of refugees flowing to Europe from Syria, Iraq, and other countries is increasing,” he said.

“What I am certain about is that the relations among Saudi Arabia, USA and GCC States have become much better after World War II and will continue to be strong and well-established,” he said in the interview.

“Like alliances and partnerships, challenges and disputes occur; however the dominance of the underlying interest in the US-Gulf alliance will be more important than any disagreement,” he added.

The former US Secretary of Defense declared that Saudi Arabia is a powerful country in the region; therefore it must be part of the new strategic relations, not

only with the US but also with all the countries in the Middle East. He said that it is the power center to the future of the Middle East and the relationship with the United States.

He confirmed that the former Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki failed in uniting Iraq and that his policy’s failure was one of the main reasons behind the emergence of ISIS.

As for the fight against ISIS, he said that it could be done by the power of alliances. “If the Middle East countries, the West and the world continued in their union against these radical groups, and we used our resources and integrated our institutions more through collecting and exchanging security information through economic, military and diplomatic powers, then ISIS will be defeated.”

Hagel also said that the United States has made a big mistake when it invaded and occupied Iraq and when it bombed Libya.

When asked about the Iranian intervention in the region, Hagel answered that the United Sates will not leave the Middle East and that Saudi Arabia will always be the major ally in the region. He said that the UAE has capable and well-equipped military institutions, adding that the US naval and aerial bases in Bahrain and Qatar are very important for USA and its partners in the Gulf.

Hagel alluded that settlement in Syria is to soon be achieved, and he warned Syrians not to set ousting the President of the Syrian regime Bashar al-Assad as a basis for the negotiations since he sees no future for him in Syria, and “we can reach a settlement that leaves him with no power”.