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US calls Bahrain, UAE “key security partners”

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (UAE) – The United States called Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates “major security partners” early Saturday, a previously unheard of definition for the two countries, where major US military operations are taking place.

A White House statement linked the definition to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which are normalizing ties with Israel, saying it “reflects their extraordinary courage, determination and leadership.” He also noted that the two countries have long participated in US military exercises.

It is unclear what the name means to Bahrain, an island kingdom off Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, and the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhs with Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Bahrain is home to the US Navy̵

7;s 5th Fleet, while the Jebel Ali Port in the UAE is the busiest port for US warships outside the United States.

The United States now uses the term “major non-NATO ally” to describe its relationship with Kuwait, which hosts US Central Command. This definition gives a country special financial and military considerations for non-NATO countries. Bahrain is also an ally outside NATO.

The U.S. Central Command and the Pentagon did not respond immediately to a request for comment. The 5th Fleet sent inquiries to the State Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The definition of the White House comes in the last days of the administration of President Donald Trump. Trump has established close ties with Arab countries in the Persian Gulf during his rule, in part because of his firm stance on Iran. This sparked a series of escalating incidents between the countries after Trump unilaterally withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

This also happened after Bahrain and the UAE joined Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the beginning to allow the long-running boycott of Qatar, another Arab country in the Persian Gulf, home to Al-Udeid Air Base, which hosts the former operational base of the Central command. The boycott began in the early days of Trump’s stay after he visited Saudi Arabia on his first trip abroad.


Follow John Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

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