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US-Iran Dispute Brings Attention to Military Bases in Middle East


In this June 3, 2019 file photo, a pilot speaks to a crew member by an F/A-18 fighter jet on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea.
US-Iran Tension Brings Attention to Military Bases in Middle East
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The United States has increased its number of navy ship patrols in the Persian Gulf and Iran’s international nuclear weapons deal is collapsing. The situation has centered increasing attention on the presence of American and other military forces in the Persian Gulf area.

As relations between the two countries worsen, attention is once again on foreign military bases in the Middle East.

The U.S. has stationed some 14,000 troops in Afghanistan to support the war there. Another 8,000 there are North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, forces.

The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which operates throughout the Middle East, is based in Bahrain. The island nation is home to over 7,000 American troops. Sheikh Isa Air Base there also houses American fighter planes, spy aircraft and a U.S. special forces operations center. The U.S. considers the island a “major non-NATO ally.”

Meanwhile, Britain has just opened its first military base east of the Suez Canal since 1971 in Bahrain.

In Iraq, the U.S. has stationed some 5,000 troops following the war against the Islamic State group there.

The small, oil-rich nation of Kuwait is home to over 13,000 American troops and the U.S. Army's Central forward headquarters. Kuwait also holds forces and equipment at two air bases and a naval base in the country. Kuwait International Airport houses the U.S. military’s largest air logistics center in the Middle East. Some 2,200 American vehicles are stationed there. The U.S. also considers Kuwait a “major non-NATO ally.”

A few hundred members of the U.S. military are based in Oman. The country permits the U.S. military to visit its ports and fly aircraft overhead. America signed a new port access agreement with Oman this year, and Britain has signed a deal to build a naval base in the country.

The forward headquarters of the U.S. military’s Central Command is at Qatar’s huge Al Udeid Air Base, home to up to 13,000 American troops. The U.S. has recently positioned B-52 bomber airplanes able to carry nuclear weapons at the base since relations with Iran started to worsen. Qatar plans to further expand the base.

Turkey also has its own military base in the country. This displeases the leaders of Saudi Arabia, which sees Turkey as competition for influence in the Middle East.

The U.S. pulled troops out of Saudi Arabia after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. For years, Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was critical of the presence of American forces there.

This summer, U.S. officials said fighter aircraft, air defense missiles and likely more than 500 American troops would return to Riyadh’s Prince Sultan Air Base. Officials said this is due to the increased tensions with Iran. U.S. special operations troops also reportedly have assisted Saudi forces along its border with war-torn Yemen.

The nation of Dubai’s Jebel Ali port in the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, is the largest port of call for the U.S. Navy outside of America. The UAE houses 5,000 members of the U.S. military, many at Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra Air Base. This base is also where American drones and F-35 fighter planes are stationed. The U.S. Navy keeps a small base in Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman. France also keeps its own navy base in Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital.

I’m ­Pete Musto.

Pete Musto adapted this story for VOA Learning English using materials from the Associated Press. Caty Weaver was the editor. We want to hear from you. What kind of foreign military presence is there in your country? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

patrol(s) – n. a group of people or vehicles that go through an area to make sure that it is safe

station(ed) – v. to assign someone to a station or position

headquartersn. a place from which something, such as a business or a military action, is controlled or directed

logisticsn. the things that must be done to plan and organize a complicated activity or event that involves many people

accessn. permission or the right to enter, get near, or make use of something or to have contact with someone

tension(s) – n. a state in which people, groups, or countries disagree with and feel anger toward each other

drone(s) – n. a type of small aircraft that flies without a pilot

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