On Saturday the United States classified Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as "major security partners" in what amounts to an exceptional and unusual designation for the two Gulf countries that cooperate with prominent US military operations.
This designation was announced in an official statement issued by the US White House press secretary, which linked this classification of Bahrain and the UAE to the fact that these nations established diplomatic ties with Israel, something which "reflects their extraordinary courage, determination and leadership". He also pointed out that the two countries have long participated in US military exercises.
According to a statement issued by the White House Press Secretary, this designation is "a unique status" that recognises the "exceptional security partnership" with Washington, "exemplified by the hosting of thousands of US soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines" and the "commitment of each country to counter violent extremism throughout the region".
"Both countries have participated in numerous US-led coalitions over the past 30 years," the statement adds, adding that this decision "demonstrates a new level of partnership" and "represents a lasting commitment to economic and security cooperation".
Both Arab nations are major allies of the American giant. Bahrain is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet. While the UAE's Jebel Ali port is the busiest port of call for US warships outside US territory. Bahrain is home to some 5,000 US troops, while the United Arab Emirates hosts 3,500, many at Al-Dhafra Air Base.
The United States already uses the designation "major non-NATO ally" to describe its relationship with Kuwait, which hosts the US Army Central Command. That designation gives a country special financial and military considerations for non-NATO nations. Bahrain is also a non-NATO ally.
The White House designation comes in the final days of President Donald Trump's administration. The Republican leader established a strong relationship with the Gulf countries vis-à-vis a common enemy such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has been under considerable pressure from Donald Trump's government, particularly following America's withdrawal from the nuclear pact signed with the Iranian authorities in 2018 after accusing Tehran of breaching the latter's terms. Precisely, the ayatollahs' regime is singled out for its belligerent policy and for being behind several incidents in Gulf waters, many of which are related to oil tankers and offensives against the infrastructure of Saudi Arabia, a major US ally in the Middle East region and the main representative of the Sunni branch of Islam opposed to the Iranian-sponsored Shia.
This diplomatic work led to the signing of the Abraham Agreements, whereby countries such as the Emirates and Bahrain established relations with Israel (also Iran's great rival) under US auspices. Donald Trump's government also managed to get Sudan and Morocco to establish diplomatic ties with the Israeli state after Israel had been distanced from the Arab countries for a long time owing to entrenched problems such as the Palestinian question; in the case of Morocco, this also reflected the USA's total support for the sovereignty of the Alaouite kingdom over Western Sahara under the formula of autonomy within Moroccan territory. A global scenario that serves to deepen the path towards peace in the Middle East and North Africa region.
All this is in addition to the recent rapprochement between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Qatar, a country which had been imposed a political and economic blockade in 2017 after being accused of supporting cross-border terrorism and links with entities classified as terrorists such as the Muslim Brothers, an organisation also linked to Turkey and Iran, both of which are accused of destabilising the Middle East and North Africa with their interventionist and expansionist policies.