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Karim Traboulsi

UK military denies building permanent base in Kuwait

Britain has already announced plans for military deployments in the region [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 December, 2018

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Local press reports had suggested the UK and Kuwait reached an agreement to build a permanent British base in the Gulf country.
The UK Ministry of Defence has denied reports claiming Britain and Kuwait had agreed to establish a permanent British base in the oil-rich Gulf emirate.

The claim was made in a Thursday morning report by Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency, quoting Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai, which itself cited Kuwaiti diplomatic sources.

But in an email to The New Arab, the MoD dismissed the report as false.

"There is absolutely no truth in the story whatsoever," an MoD media representative told The New Arab.

Al-Rai
claimed officials from both countries would meet on Thursday to discuss aspects of cooperation between the two sides. Al-Qabas, another local newspaper, also said the meeting would finalise the deal for the base.

Despite the official denial, the UK appears to have been considering some form of permanent military base in Kuwait.

"We're looking at all the possibilities. We're not talking about a major deployment, I don't think, but we're looking at what might work for both the United Kingdom and for Kuwait. As I say, it's at a very early stage," British ambassador to Kuwait Michael Davenport said in a February interview with Forces Network.

Britain has already announced plans for military deployments in the region, in Oman and Bahrain, in what has been dubbed a British "military build-up" east of Suez, in reference to colonial-era UK deployments in Asia and the Gulf, much of which was under British control until the 1970s.

"We will create a permanent presence in the region... with more British warships, aircraft and personnel deployed on operations in the Gulf than in any other part of the world," Prime Minister Theresa May 
declared back in 2016.

May at the time identified Oman and Bahrain as the most important states for Britain's presence, as London seeks to restore a global footprint in the wake of its withdrawal from the European Union.

In April, the UK opened its first permanent base in the region since the 1971 withdrawal. The HMS Juffair naval facility in Bahrain's Mina Salman Port can host 500 Royal Navy personnel.

Britain also seeks to develop a significant military and commercial presence in Oman's major Duqm port. Beginning in early October, 5,500 British soldiers participated in a major joint exercise with 70,000 of their Omani counterparts, the largest such exercise in Oman's history


Read more: 

East of Suez: Britain's new Gulf military build-up

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