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American Military Presence in the Persian Gulf Even prior to the Gulf War the US had thrown its immense military diplomatic and economic weight behind the monarchies of the Persian Gulf like Kuwait Oman Qatar Bahrain the UAE and Saudi Arabia Though they rule over less than 10 of the worlds total population these countries control most of its petroleum wealth 64 of the worlds oil reserves Prior to the war it was difficult for the US to engage in military exercises or even arrange a port call without asking for permission months in advance However because the Gulf nations have accepted acceptance of the balance it now brings there is an effective permanent US military presence in the Persian Gulf Still in spite of and sometimes because of this presence the regions instability continues Most Persian Gulf Arabs and their leaders felt threatened after Iraqs seizure of Kuwait and were grateful for the strong US leadership in the 1991 war against Saddam Husseins regime However for some there is an enormous amount of cynicism regarding US motives in waging that war Many Arabs in the Gulf cannot shake the sense that the war was not fought for international law self-determination and human rights as the Bush administration said but rather to protect US access to oil and to enable the US to gain a strategic hold in the region It is apparent that a continued US presence is welcome only as long as Arabs feel they need a foreign military presence to protect them The US has no formal defense treaties with its southern Gulf allies It relies on a series of cooperative agreements with Bahrain Kuwait Oman Qatar and the UAE Saudi Arabia declined to sign any agreement even though Saudi-US ties are stronger than American ties with any other Gulf state Even though the Gulf states refuse the permanent basing of US troops the US defense planners have arranged to
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