The United States military
has cancelled a number of planned war games with its Persian Gulf Arab allies over their persisting dispute with another key Arab ally, Qatar
, in an apparent attempt to press an end to the months-long row.
The US military’s Central Command made the announcement on Friday, without much elaboration, and only pointing to Washington’s rising concerns over the dispute between a group of Saudi-led countries and Qatar.
The US views the Persian Gulf region, which is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet and other key military bases, strategically.
“We are opting out of some military exercises out of respect for the concept of inclusiveness and shared regional interests,” said Central Command spokesman Air Force Col. John Thomas in a statement in response to queries from the Associated Press.
“We will continue to encourage all partners to work together toward the sort of common solutions that enable security and stability in the region,” he added, without offering further details.
US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, on September 19, 2017. (Photo by AP)
The dispute over Qatar started on June 5, when Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) severed diplomatic relations with Doha and imposed a partial siege on it.
The quartet of Arab countries justified their hostile actions by accusing Qatar of backing terrorist elements. Doha, however, denied the accusation, saying that it was being targeted for political reasons.
American military authorities initially reacted indifferently to the dispute, saying that they had no impact on their operations in the region. As the dispute continued, however, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited Doha to offer his support. Washington further agreed to an ensuing sale of its F-15 jet fighters to Qatar in a deal worth $12 billion.
Qatar plays host to the massive al-Udeid military air base, the forward headquarters of the US Central Command, which oversees the US-led coalition’s bombing campaigns in Syria and Iraq and manages a direct line to Russia to deal with Syria’s crowded skies.