Last week, I led a delegation to the Middle East for meetings with our key allies, including
Israel, Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Our discussions focused on the increasing polarization in the region and the spread of Iranian influence. SUNDAY, Amman, Jordan. Lighthearted moments were few and far in between during these meetings, but with Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, we commiserated over how tough it can be to get around New York City. MONDAY MORNING, Kuwait. Before flying to Baghdad, we met service members at the air base in Kuwait. You can see in my shirt pocket the earbuds for the military aircraft. MONDAY AFTERNOON, Meetings with Iraqi leaders. In Baghdad, you’re surrounded by reminders of Saddam Hussein. One of his former palaces now serves as the Government Palace. This is before we went in to meet with Prime Minister al-Abadi. MONDAY AFTERNOON, Constituent Meetings, Baghdad. Seeing service members and embassy officers from our home states was certainly a highlight of the trip, especially for Rep. Ileana-Ros Lehtinen of Florida. As she put it, it’s a little bit of home. MONDAY EVENING, Baghdad. A quick tour, dinner — and good conversation — with service members stationed in Baghdad. TUESDAY. Meetings in Saudi Arabia in between travel time, which I mostly used to catch up on reading. Downtime was also an opportunity to catch up on the news back home, and of course, send selfies to the family. WEDNESDAY, ISRAEL. Began the day with a tour of the Hamas-built terror tunnels at the Gaza border — probably the most memorable experience from the trip — and ended it with a walk through the Old City in Jerusalem. THURSDAY, Spain. On the phone with the president about Iran. After visiting with our allies, my concerns about Iran’s efforts to foment unrest, brutal violence and terror have only grown.