US confers UAE and Bahrain with status of 'major security partners'

White House says ‘unique’ status is in recognition of a long history of military ties between the countries

ABU DHABI - UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - 27JAN2013 - Michael H Corbin, US Ambassador to UAE, hosted first shipboard reception for senior UAE officials, business leaders and diplomats on "The USS Rushmore" which is the seventh ship in the Whidbey island - class of dock landing ship and the fourth ship in that class to serve in the Pacific fleet is currently based out of the U.S. Navy’s 5th fleet in Bahrain, was docked at Khalifa port in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
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The United States declared the UAE and Bahrain “major security partners”, citing their long history of military ties and commitment to countering violent extremism.

On Saturday, the White House said the decision was linked to the UAE and Bahrain’s normalisation of ties with Israel, which “reflects their extraordinary courage, determination and leadership”.

The White House said the “major security partner” designation was “unique to the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain”.

“It recognises our exceptional security partnership – exemplified by their hosting thousands of United States soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – and the commitment of each country to countering violent extremism across the region,” it said.

“Most notably, both countries have participated in numerous United States-led coalitions over the past 30 years.”

Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, while the UAE’s Jebel Ali port is the busiest port of call for American warships outside of the US. Bahrain hosts about 5,000 American troops, while the UAE hosts 3,500, many at Al Dhafra Air Base.

Washington declared Bahrain a “major non-Nato ally” in 2004, a status that provides preferential treatment in military co-operation, research and purchases.

Kuwait, which hosts the forward command of US Army Central, was designated a major non-Nato ally late last year.

Mr Trump forged close ties with Gulf Arab countries during his time in office, in part over his hardline stance on Iran.