I am on vacation in UAE (United Arab Emirates) so I thought I would hunt for some news in here and I got a big one the day I arrived. President Nicolas Sarkozy on 25th May opened France’s first permanent military base in the Gulf region built primarily to send a warning message to Iran on it’s nuclear ambitions and also to compete with Britain and the US for military and commercial influence in the area. The base will host 500 personnel from the French navy, the army, and the air force. It will be able to simultaneously accommodate two frigates of the French fleet and five Dassault Rafales operating in the region. French forces in UAE have been giving support to NATO operations in Afghanistan since 2002, the only thing new is that it has been made official and public. The United States has been the only foreign country with permanent military bases in the region, and for several years, Arab Gulf officials have been talking about bringing in other military partners. The primary objective of the base would be to protect oil and gas routes. Judging from the limited number of military personnel who are to be stationed permanently on the base, the main function of the base could not be military operations but rather providing logistical, communication, and monitoring support. The growing Russian and Chinese interest in the region on the one hand and the weakening of US power and influence on the other have persuaded France to bridge the emerging security gap and establish a modest foothold in the region. In principle, having a military base in the Gulf close to hot spots such as Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan brings about a long-term commitment for the French government in world politics, at the same time it could place France in the firing line and could force undesirable involvement in regional conflicts.I think this would probably benefit both the US and France, the US doesn’t want to be the only one in the Gulf whilst France may be able to find markets for its arms industry, France has historically provided much of the military hardware in the region.
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