The White House statement ties the designation to the normalization agreement with Israel, saying it reflects “extraordinary courage.”
The United States on Saturday called Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates “main security partners”, a designation hitherto unheard of for the two countries hosting major US military operations.
In addition, President Donald Trump received Morocco’s highest honor on Friday for his work in promoting a normalization agreement between the kingdom and Israel.
A White House statement linked the designation of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as “main security partners” to the normalization of relations with Israel, saying it “reflects their extraordinary courage, determination and leadership. “. He also noted that the two countries have long participated in US military exercises.
It’s unclear what the designation means for Bahrain, an island kingdom off Saudi Arabia in the Gulf, and the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhs home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, while the port of Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates is the busiest port of call for U.S. warships outside of the United States. Bahrain hosts some 5,000 US troops while the United Arab Emirates hosts 3,500, many of them at Al-Dhafra Air Base.
The United States uses the designation “major non-NATO ally” to describe its relationship with Kuwait, which hosts the forward command of the US Army Central. This designation grants a country special financial and military considerations for non-NATO countries. Bahrain is also a non-NATO ally.
U.S. Army Central Command and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Fifth Fleet referred the queries to the State Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The White House appointment comes in the final days of the Trump administration. The president forged close ties with Arab Gulf countries during his tenure in part because of his tough stance on Iran. This sparked a growing series of incidents between countries following Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal with world powers.
It also comes after Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates joined Egypt and Saudi Arabia to begin resolving a multi-year boycott of Qatar, another Gulf Arab nation home to the Al Udeid air base that hosts the US Central Command forward operating base. This boycott began in the early days of Trump’s tenure following his visit to Saudi Arabia on his first trip abroad.
Morocco is one of four Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, to have agreed to normalize relations with Israel.
A senior administration official reportedly said a private ceremony took place in the Oval Office where Princess Lalla Joumala Alaoui, Morocco’s Ambassador to the United States, presented Trump with the Order of Muhammad, an award given only to heads of state. The prize was a gift from King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz received further accolades for their work on the Israel-Morocco deal, which was concluded in December.
Trump, who is stepping down on Wednesday, has drawn criticism of the deal with Morocco because to seal the deal he agreed that the United States would recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Western Sahara has been the scene of a decades-old territorial dispute between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, a separatist movement seeking to establish an independent state in the territory.
Kushner’s team was striving to reach more agreements between Israel and the Arab world. But the time is up and we can’t wait any longer until Trump leaves.
The media were not allowed to attend the Moroccan award ceremony. Trump has limited his public appearances since the loss of the November 3 election.