Khamis, 3 Mei 2012


Dozens of US and allied forces' military installations dot the region, from Oman, UAE and Kuwait to Turkey and Israel.
Last Modified: 01 May 2012 21:25
Doha, Qatar - US military bases continue to form a strategic envelope around Iran, although the American withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011 may have changed the regional balance somewhat towards Iran's favour. While US forces are scaling back in many parts of the globe due to budget cuts - and have begun a gradual depature from Afghanistan to be completed by 2014 - their international presence remains vast.
From an active-duty force of 1.4 million soldiers, the US has deployed some 350,000 troops to at least 130 foreign countries around the world. Some are at Cold War-era installations, but many are in or near combat zones in the Middle East. At more than 750 bases internationally, private contractors and third-country nationals also form a large percentage of the staff, in addition to military reservists and civilian employees of the Pentagon.
US military installations in the Middle East serve to keep an eye on Iran, but their regional footprint was significantly expanded well before Iran became the most publicly cited foreign "threat".
There were three reasons why the US sought a presence across the Middle East, says Mehran Kamrava, Director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar:
"Securing oil resources, guaranteeing the security of the state of Israel and combating threats to American interests" were the initial priorities of US military activity in the region prior to the first Gulf War, Kamrava says.
"Subsequently, direct military presence wasn't in the form of impositions, but the [security umbrella] was a conscious policy decision on the part of the Persian Gulf states."

Kamrava says US forces "have the ability to project force when needed, by intimidating and signalling to potential threats that the US can flex its muscles if necessary ... This is a combination of 'showing the flag' and practical, logistical issues such as the movement of troops, supplies and services".
"So, these bases are not necessarily because of Iran, but certainly Iran has given the US a compelling reason to further the number of bases," Kamrava told Al Jazeera. "But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Iran is encircled militarily."
Since tensions with Iran further escalated in early January, a map of assumed locations of bases in the vicinity of the Islamic Republic has been circulating across various social media platforms. But our map, above, reflects the latest information, either officially acknowledged by the US military, sourced in the media or described on military information sites such as Global Security.
In-depth coverage of a growing regional debate 
Prior to the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US, most of the American military abroad was stationed in Europe and East Asia. But the number of Middle East deployments climbed dramatically during subsequent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The wide range and function of the new facilities became expedient to the simultaneous fighting of two massive wars on either side of Iran.
A decade ago in 2002, Rear Admiral Craig R Quigley, senior spokesman at US Central Command (CENTCOM) in Tampa, Florida, said: "There is great value, for instance, in continuing to build airfields in a variety of locations on the perimeter of Afghanistan that, over time, can do a variety of functions, like combat operations, medical evacuation and delivering humanitarian assistance."
And while the US largely shifted its military focus to the region, it also moved most troops out of Saudi Arabia and into other Arab states of the Gulf, where US-friendly governments ironed out new security and basing arrangements.



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