The U.S. Navy is considering moving its Fifth Fleet from where it has long been stationed in Bahrain’s capital, Manama. Bahrain’s ruling al Khalifa family has been violently cracking down on pro-democracy protesters in recent months and rising allegations of systematic human rights violations are creating a public relations issue for the U.S., a longtime supporter and ally of the dictatorship.
Possible relocation sites include the United Arab Emirates, which already hosts aircraft carriers and other military installments, or Qatar, in which U.S. military bases also reside. Although the U.S. has had a permanent naval presence in Bahrain since the 1970s, the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, in its current incarnation, was established following the first Gulf War. It directs operations in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and Arabian Sea and secures the Straits of Hormuz, through which 40 per cent of the world’s seaborne oil passes. It is one of the largest military forces in the region, with 40 vessels and close to 30,000 personnel.
The Obama administration’s support for the Bahraini dictatorship and its violent response to peaceful protesters has been assertive, with over $92 million in aid since Obama’s inauguration and another $26.2 million slated for next year. Obama personally reaffirmed this support when the Bahraini crown prince visited the White House last month. The Pentagon has also cut deals with Bahrain in arms trade, sending dozens of American tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopter gunships, thousands of .38 caliber pistols and millions of rounds of ammunition, from .50 caliber rounds used in sniper rifles and machine guns to bullets for handguns, some of which were undoubtedly used against protesters.
While the Fifth Fleet has long been one of the most essential displays of American imperial power in the region, the cost of moving its location to a neighboring country may be lower for the Obama administration than continuing to advertise enthusiastic support for Bahrain’s recent cruelty by maintaining the base. Unfortunately, U.S. aid and diplomatic support have not budged.
11 thoughts on “US Navy’s Fifth Fleet Could Abandon Bahrain”
What for they are kept there just to kill the Arabs otherwise there is no lojic in it.
Moving the fleet would be incredibly stupid. More craven pandering by the Obama Administration. If they move it, Iran will invade immediately. The Revolutionary Guard is itching for war, but want something small enough to handle. And something where the natives would be on their side. Bahrain might just fit the bill.
Oh, yeah! Iran has a proven record of invading. Look at the past, say, 100 years and you'll see what I mean. It's all in there for all to see. Gotta watch out for them, I always say. Pretty soon, them Iranians and their nukes are gonna take over the world.
What color is the sky in your world?
Oh, yeah! I'm sure the Fifth Fleet is abandoning ship (pun intended) and it's just because of the brutality of the regime in Bahrain. Uh, huh! And, next, they'll be trying to sell us a slightly used bridge in Brooklyn at a very, very low price.
A military group like the Navy has a plan for everything. Of course the recent unrest means they've been developing plans to move. Doesn't mean they are going to use them. They'll probably put in a drawer just in case democracy really does win out in Bahrain and the forces that oppose democracy have to scramble out of there. Certainly Obama loves his dictators and tyrants, as long as they are his, and won't move the fleet unless forced to by forces of democracy that he can't control.
I've been to Bahrain several times to repair mine sweeping equipment for the U S Navy. Bahrain is a totally uncharming, ridiculously expensive, little place. Hotel rooms average $200/night; a cup of coffee in a restaurant can cost $10; a cab ride down the block, $15. The Navy allows a per diem expense allowance of $323/day for Bahrain. All for the privilege, of being on an island country with 130 degree F days in the Summer ( dehydration is a constant worry). Forget the beach -it is a stinking mud flat. Bahrain's attraction – it connects to the mainland of Saudi Arabia by a long causeway. The repressed Saudis can drive down for a weekend of drinking and whoring. (Much like in Mississippi where the hill country hardshell Baptists can drive down to Pascagoula for fun and hopefully not be seen by anyone who knows them). On the island of Bahrain, there is a tree growing out in the desert called the "tree of Life"; because it grows where nothing should. Tradition, says that if one visits this tree and then leaves Bahrain, that person will never return to Bahrain. Last time, I was in Bahrain, I considered paying $100 for a cab ride out to see this wretched tree.
Of course, if we were really fighting for freedom and democracy, the fleet would be helping the protesters.
We should just bring the fleet home. But we won't….
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