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US plans to base regional force in Kuwait. Will Iran get the message?

As the Pentagon exits Afghanistan it is looking to Kuwait to base a sizable force. One aim, to dispel the perception in the Mideast, disseminated by Iran, that the US is pulling back in the region.

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Even as the Pentagon draws down US troops in Afghanistan, it plans to base a sizable contingent of forces in nearby Kuwait – with the clear purpose of sending a signal to Iran.

The signal – that the United States plan to maintain a credible force in the region – comes at a vital time for the US military, says Michael Singh, a former senior adviser for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council.

“The Middle East is very turbulent right now – it’s hard to even imagine all of the different types of conflicts that will challenge our interests,” adds Mr. Singh. 

A Senate Foreign Relations Committee report released Tuesday stresses the “myriad” political and security challenges in the region, “from the Iranian nuclear program to the threat of terrorism.”

But at the top of the list is the ongoing friction with Iran, analysts tend to agree.

“Clearly the day where we had massive US troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming to a close,” Singh says. When coupled with what Singh describes as a US response to the Arab Spring that “has in many ways been aloof,” he adds, “I think there’s a perception in the region that the US is pulling back.” 

Singh says it’s a perception that Iran is seeking to disseminate for its own purposes – “that America is leaving the region because they have driven US forces out.” And, he adds, it's in the Pentagon’s best interests “to show this narrative is false.”

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