Are We Really 'Withdrawing' from Bush's Wars? Quietly, US Constructs Even More Bases in the Mideast
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Between 2003-2009, the U.S. Army awarded $559 million in contracts for Saudi construction projects. In 2009, for example, it gave a $160 million deal to construction firm Saudi Oger Limited for the construction of facilities for a Saudi mechanized brigade based at Al Hasa, a $127 million contract to Saudi Lebanese Modern Construction Co. to erect structures for the Prince Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Battalion, and an $82 million agreement to top Saudi construction firm Al-Latifia Trading and Contracting Company to build ammunition storage bunkers, possibly at the Saudi Arabian National Guard's Khashm Al An Training Area.
Additionally, military weaponry has continued to flow into Saudi Arabia by way of the Pentagon and so, too, have contracts to provide support services for that materiel. For example, earlier this year, under a U.S. Air Force contract extension, Cubic Corporation was awarded a $9.5 million deal "to continue to operate and maintain the air combat training system used to support F-15 fighter pilot training for the Royal Saudi Air Force."
Like the Saudis, Jordan's leader, King Abdullah II, has long had a complex relationship with the U.S. shaped by domestic concerns over U.S. military action in the region and support for Israel. As with Saudi Arabia, none of that has stopped the U.S. military from forging ever closer ties with the kingdom.
Recently, after testing and evaluating various training systems at multiple U.S. Army bases, the Jordanian Armed Forces selected Cubic's combat training center system and under the auspices of the U.S. Army, the company was "awarded an $18 million contract to supply mobile combat training center instrumentation and training services to the Kingdom of Jordan."
The Pentagon has also invested in Jordanian military infrastructure. Between 2001-2009, the Army awarded $86 million in contracts for Jordanian construction projects. One major beneficiary was again Archirodon which, between 2006-2008, worked on the construction of the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC) -- a state-of-the-art military and counter-terrorism training facility owned and operated by the Jordanian government but built, in part, under a $70 million U.S. Army contract. In 2009, Archirodon was awarded two additional contracts for $729,000 and $400,000, by the Air Force, for unspecified work in Jordan.
When that 1,235-acre $200 million Jordanian training center was unveiled earlier this year, King Abdullah II himself gave the inaugural address, speaking "of his vision for KASOTC as a world-class special forces training center." Not surprisingly, General Petraeus was also on hand to give a speech in which he lauded Jordan as "a key partner... [which] has placed itself at the forefront of police and military training for regional security forces."
Garrisoning the Gulf
Even as it lurches toward a quasi-withdrawal from Iraq, the U.S. military has been hunkering down and hardening its presence elsewhere in the Middle East with little fanfare or press coverage. There has been almost no discussion in this country of a host of possible repercussions that might come from this, ranging from local opposition to the U.S. military's presence to the arming of undemocratic and repressive regimes in the region. With the sole exception of Iran, the U.S. military has fully garrisoned the nations of the Persian Gulf with air bases, naval bases, desert posts, training centers, and a whole host of other facilities, while also building up the military capacity of nearby Jordan.
The CIA efforts to topple Iran's government in the 1950s, Washington's support for Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the 1980s, the Pentagon's troop presence in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s -- all were considered canny geopolitical moves in their time; all had unforeseen and devastating consequences. The money the Pentagon has recently been pouring into the nations of the Persian Gulf to bulk up base infrastructure has only tied the U.S. ever more tightly to the region's autocratic, often unpopular regimes, while further arming and militarizing an area traditionally considered unstable. The Pentagon's Persian Gulf base build-up has already cost Americans billions in tax dollars. What the costs in "blowback" will be remains the unknown part of the equation