The United States may be pulling out of Iraq by the end of 2011, but that doesn't mean it's getting out of the Persian Gulf—in fact, the US military is looking to boost its combat presence in Kuwait and increase its military ties to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, reports the New York Times. With Iran looking to flex its muscles and other states looking unstable, the US military wants to create a new “security architecture” for the region, integrating air, sea, and missile defenses.
The repositioning comes as many worry that the US military's exit from Iraq will create a power vacuum in the region. At the moment, there are about 23,000 troops in Kuwait, most providing support for Iraq, and the US is expected to announce the future size of its Kuwait force in coming days. That decision is complicated by budget cuts at home, but “We will have a robust continuing presence throughout the region,” says Hillary Clinton. “Now the game is different,” says Bahrain's foreign minister. “We’ll have to be partners in operations, in issues, and in many ways that we should work together."