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Monday, July 25, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

U.S. makes it official: Fifth Fleet will remain
in Bahrain

ABU DHABI — The U.S. Navy has pledged not to withdraw from Bahrain.
  • Related Story: Sources: Fifth Fleet abandons base in Bahrain; Navy denies evacuation underway March 16

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    The Navy denied reports that it was planning to abandon its base in the Gulf Cooperation Council state amid rising Shi'ite unrest. The Navy, citing a British newspaper report, said its Fifth Fleet would remain in facilities outside the Bahraini capital of Manama.

    "The speculation in the London Times article about Fifth Fleet leaving Bahrain is false," U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost said.

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    The Navy said it would remain in Bahrain despite concerns of Iranian-backed Shi'ite unrest. Ms. Derrick-Frost said the Fifth Fleet would continue to employ Bahrain as a regional operations center, Middle East Newsline reported.

    "The U.S. Fifth Fleet continues to support ongoing operations in the region and is committed to working with our regional partners to maintain security and stability in this area of operations," Ms. Derrick-Frost said on July 22.

    In March, the Fifth Fleet was said to have sent more than 1,000 personnel to Oman amid the Shi'ite revolt in Bahrain. Diplomatic sources said the administration of President Barack Obama has been examining a relocation of the Fifth Fleet to either Qatar or the United Arab Emirates.

    Tension between Bahrain and the United States were renewed in July amid accusations by pro-royalist factions that Washington was pressuring Manama to concede to Shi'ite demands for power-sharing. A key royalist, National Unity Assembly president Abdul Latif Al Mahmoud said the Fifth Fleet was threatening to withdraw from Bahrain.

    "The U.S. Navy has a long-standing relationship of more than 60 years with Bahrain and they are a vital member of our Combined Maritime Forces, supporting regional maritime security and stability," Ms. Derrick-Frost said.

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