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U.S. And NATO Allies Escalate Military Buildup Against Iran

By       Message Rick Rozoff       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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U.S. And NATO Allies Escalate Military Buildup Against Iran
Rick Rozoff

The new Strategic Concept adopted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization at its summit in Lisbon, Portugal on November 19-20 reiterated the U.S.-led military bloc's determination to expand military partnerships and deployments throughout the so-called Greater Middle East, including in the Persian Gulf. [1]

The Alliance's doctrine for the next decade contains the assertion that "we attach great importance to peace and stability in the Gulf region, and we intend to strengthen our cooperation in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative," [2] the reference being to the decision reached at the bloc's 2004 summit in Turkey to upgrade partnerships with the seven members of NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue program - Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia - and the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - to the status of the Partnership for Peace program used to graduate 12 Eastern European nations to full NATO membership over the last 11 years.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have formally responded to the initiative by forging bilateral relations with NATO, and Oman and Saudi Arabia have cooperated with the military alliance in ad hoc endeavors ranging from conferences to hosting visits of NATO naval groups. [3]

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is also one of NATO's 48 Troop Contributing Nations for the war in Afghanistan and provides air bases to NATO member states for the war in that country. Until recently Canadian aircraft and troops operated out of Camp Mirage in Dubai, reportedly at the Al Minhad Air Base, where Dutch, Australian and New Zealand military forces have also been based for the Afghan war and operations in the Arabian Sea. 

Britain also employs the Al Minhad Air Base as a "final hopping point" for transport planes to "carry troops and supplies to Afghanistan." In addition, the base supplies logistical support to British warships in the Persian Gulf. In the words of a British military official, "It's the right distance from the UK and the right distance from Afghanistan, in a safe country." [4]

As is evident by the location of the 13 nations targeted by the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, from Mauritania on the west coast of Africa to the monarchies and sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf, NATO is complementing and reinforcing U.S. military objectives and deployments from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. There is a NATO overlay to the Pentagon's Africa Command and Central Command, converging in Egypt, the only African nation still in the second command which reaches to the Chinese and Russian borders in Kazakhstan to the east.

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The USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Harry S. Truman nuclear-powered supercarrier strike groups are currently in the Arabian Sea along with the only non-American nuclear aircraft carrier in the world, France's Charles de Gaulle [5], conducting operations from the Horn of Africa to Afghanistan.

Over 150,000 troops under U.S. and NATO command are waging war in Afghanistan, including in the provinces of Herat, Farah and Nimroz on Iran's eastern border.

In 2004 NATO airlifted Afghan government troops loyal to President Hamid Karzai to Herat province to depose the province's governor, Ismail Khan, whose son was killed in the process, and seize the Shindand Air Base, 20 miles from the Iranian border. 

Earlier this year the Pentagon announced plans to spend $131 million to upgrade the air base. As a press report last May put it, the expansion and modernization of the base is occurring "as the U.S. works to strengthen the militaries and missile defenses of allies in the region and presses at the United Nations for a new round of sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to curb its nuclear program." [6]

To the south of Afghanistan's Nimroz province is the Pakistani province of Balochistan, where the U.S. and NATO have been conducting helicopter raids and surveillance flights and where it was recently reported that "the United States military and its coalition partners in Afghanistan" have been granted the right to "maintain a presence" at a Pakistani military base in the capital of Quetta. [7] By some accounts the Pentagon and NATO are establishing an air base in the province. [8]

North of Afghanistan's border with Iran is the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan, which adjoins Iran from Afghanistan to the Caspian Sea. In January of 2009 General David Petraeus, at the time head of U.S. Central Command and now commander of all American and NATO troops in Afghanistan, led a delegation to Turkmenistan to consolidate transit and other support for the war in Afghanistan and to build bilateral military ties.

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Last summer a news source by no means unfriendly to U.S. foreign policy objectives revealed that "The U.S. has gained access to use almost all the military airfields of Turkmenistan, including the airport in Nebit-Dag near the Iranian border, which was reconstructed at American expense. In September 2004, at the Mary-2 airfield, U.S. military experts appeared and began reconstructing the facility with the help of Arab construction companies, which provoked the protest of Moscow...." [9]

North of Turkmenistan along the Caspian coastline, one nation removed from Iran, is Kazakhstan, the largest and richest nation in Central Asia and one which has a 4,251-mile border with Russia and a 951-mile one with China. [10]

Last month the U.S. State Department signed an agreement with the country that allows U.S. military aircraft "to fly across the North Pole and through Kazakhstan air space to supply American forces in Afghanistan," thereby "mak[ing] it faster and cheaper to send troops and materiel to the Afghan war zone." [11]

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at:

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