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Subject: New french base in UAE
nominoe    1/29/2008 10:54:23 AM
France will establish a military base in UAE, with 500 permanent personnel, which will include army, navy and air force. With this future base and the djibouti installations, France will definitely have a strategic presence in middle east and especially in the persian gulf. Good news for both France and the West, even if it is only a small installation.;_ylt=Athb21LLuygZzRmLqOS4e3ngelIB
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Bluewings12       1/30/2008 11:33:02 AM
Found this article on Arabnews :

""The decision to establish a French military base in Abu Dhabi was unexpected news that straightaway generated a great deal of interest in the Gulf region and beyond. Setting up a permanent military presence in the Gulf region, where they had no such presence before, the French are driven by a new political vision and a review of their strategic interests. For the UAE government, the decision to allow the first foreign military base on its territory is equally driven by new strategic considerations. There is no doubt that the move to establish the base in Abu Dhabi was founded on mutual agreement and on the principle of shared benefits for the two sovereign states. Yet, the motivation behind the decision has to be seen from different angles.

Judging from the limited number of military personnel who are to be stationed permanently on the base (between 400-600 French servicemen), the main function of the base could not be military operations but rather providing logistical, communication, and monitoring support. Given France?s limited military capability and the modest size of its naval capacity, the Sarkozy government must have placed the French interests in the Gulf region on the top of their agenda. A French military base in Abu Dhabi is a strategic long-term investment and one must assume that such an investment fits in with the state?s strategic vision to play a greater role in the Gulf in the future.

With a military base on the UAE coast, the French can now keep an eye on the Gulf waters, and in particular the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of world?s oil export passes, as well as the neighboring countries such as Iran. Over the past years, French naval forces have been paying regular visits to the Gulf ports, and cooperating with the US in patrolling the Gulf waters. However, a continuous monitoring operation in the Gulf is more expensive in the long run than having a base in one of the regional states. France also believes that a military base will improve its image and credibility as an important player in the international political arena and this, in turn, could bring it a greater political and economic role in the Gulf.

The growing Russian and Chinese interest in the region on the one hand and the weakening of US power and influence on the other have persuaded France to bridge the emerging security gap and establish a modest foothold in the region. In principle, having a military base in the Gulf close to hot spots such as Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan brings about a long-term commitment for the French government in world politics; at the same time it could place France in the firing line and could force undesirable involvement in regional conflicts.

As for the UAE, the establishment of a military base is the logical result of rising tensions in the Gulf waters, in particular the threat from the increasing power and the hegemonic aspirations of Iran. Given the state?s small size and population which impose a limitation on its military power, the UAE lacks self-defense capabilities. Therefore, as in the case of most other Gulf States, it depends on external protection. But in comparison to its smaller GCC partners such as Kuwait, Bahrain or Qatar, the UAE, until now, had no foreign military base on its territory. With the growing tensions in the Gulf region, in particular the belligerent behavior of its neighbor Iran over the past year, the UAE feels vulnerable to outside threats and intimidation. Unlike its GCC partners, the government in Abu Dhabi does not think that the solution to its security concerns lies in inviting US troops to set up a military base. Given the negative US image in the region, the UAE government may have felt that, despite the strong bilateral political and defense relations, a US military base would not be a wise idea, and could be a source of insecurity rather than security. Relatively speaking, the French image in the Gulf region is far better than that of the US, and even more positive than the image of the British. The French-Gulf relations are not burdened with any negative colonial baggage.

The mutual decision to establish the military base, therefore, must be seen against the background of the rapidly burgeoning French-UAE relations in a wide variety of fields. Apart from the long-standing military and security cooperation, which finds its origin in the 1995 mutual defense agreement between the two states, political, economic, cultural, and educational cooperation are also in the ascendant.

The question remains whether the US, which is the dominant foreign ?power? in the Gulf waters, agreed to the UAE-France deal. The US is the major strategic ally of the GCC states, and therefore, we can assume that any major decision such as the one to establish a French military base could not be made without its

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