US strengthens Middle-East military presence


Perhaps one of the most breathtakingly hypocritical moments of the past year was when US President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel peace prize.

But following closely behind was Obama's lie that the US is preparing to "withdraw" its military from Iraq.

The US military "draw-down" — as it's euphemistically termed — has the stated aim of some 50,000 US troops leaving Iraq by mid-2010 and around the same number by the end of 2011.

But this will not rid the country of the US military nor imperial domination.

Former US president Jimmy Carter candidly put it in February 2006: "[T]here are people in Washington who never intend to withdraw military forces from Iraq and they're looking for 10, 20, 50 years in the future ... the reason that we went into Iraq was to establish a permanent military base in the gulf region ..."

The US military has been cementing its presence in the Middle East with a string of military bases along the borders of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

With the sole exception of Iran, the US military has militarised the nations of the Persian Gulf with air bases, naval bases, desert posts and training centres, while also building up the military capacity of nearby Jordan.

Iraq was host to more than 300 US bases, but these are now being consolidated into fewer, larger "forward operating bases", which can house up to 20,000 people.

The Joint Base Balad, north of Baghdad, for instance, has massage parlours, swimming pools and Subway outlets. It houses Western contractors and workers from the Philippines, Bangladesh and India.

The money the Pentagon has poured into the nations of the Persian Gulf to bulk-up military infrastructure has tied the US ever more tightly to the region's autocratic, unpopular regimes — while further arming and militarising these countries.

The December bombing of a village in the north of Yemen, which killed 120 people, and the US administration's threat that Yemen will be "tomorrow's war", reveal that the Obama administration is extending its military presence throughout the Middle East.

The Pentagon's Persian Gulf base build-up is further evidence of this.

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