December 6, 2022

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Air Force official says US to maintain presence in Mideast

Image Courtesy: ABC News

Even as military strategists contemplate rivalry with China and Russia as Washington's next major issue

Even as military strategists contemplate rivalry with China and Russia as Washington’s next major issue, the top US Air Force general in the Middle East said Saturday that American airmen would remain stationed in the region.

Lt. Gen. Gregory Guillot, speaking to journalists ahead of the Dubai Airshow, conceded that the presence “might adjust” after the US exit from Afghanistan in August. The United States Air Force has a large facility in adjacent Qatar, where it oversees operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

“However, I don’t see any scenario in which the US does not play a significant role,” Guillot remarked.

Guillot’s remarks come as tensions between Iran and the United States remain high after years of conflicts following then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal with world powers. Meanwhile, Israel is suspected of carrying out a series of attacks against Iran’s nuclear programme.

While talks on the accord stagnate, Iran elects a hard-line favourite of the country’s supreme commander as president, seizes ships at sea, and is suspected of carrying out drone operations.

Guillot has repeatedly refused to blame recent drone attacks in the region on Iran, despite the fact that the number of such attacks in the region is increasing.

After speaking at the Dubai International Air Chiefs’ Conference, he remarked, “The joint defence of various countries in the region is going to be our key to detecting them and remaining one step ahead of the threat as it evolves.”

This week’s Dubai Airshow is set to feature Russia’s Sukhoi Su-75 Checkmate fighter plane. It’s a direct competitor to the American F-35 fighter jet, which the UAE has been striving to acquire since diplomatic recognition of Israel last year. Under President Joe Biden’s administration, that sale has stalled.

When asked about the Checkmate, Guillot expressed the desire that US friends and partners will use “interoperable” equipment with the US military. He stated that purchasing the Russian fighter would “definitely” have an impact on this.

Guillot used a visual that includes the Israeli flag among others in the region during his presentation. Because of the recent recognition agreements, the US military now considers Israel to be under US Central Command. In the Red Sea, Bahrain and the UAE recently conducted a joint practise with the US Navy and Israel.

Air drills with Israel and those countries, according to Guillot, could also take place.

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