Al Dhafra.. What do you know about the US-French military base in the UAE?

The Associated Press quoted the US Air Force Command at Al Dhafra base as saying that it had dealt with the threats of the Abu Dhabi attack, and that its forces had entered a state of high alert and took shelter in shelters at the base during the attack.

The US Central Command confirmed that the Patriot missile system at the Al Dhafra base in Abu Dhabi in the UAE intercepted two ballistic missiles at dawn on Monday, January 24, 2022.

The statement issued on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, stressed that the US forces in “Al Dhafra” are on alert and ready to respond in the event of any further attacks. He also revealed the presence of about two thousand American soldiers and employees at the base.

“Little Sparta”

Al Dhafra base, which Washington Post journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran called in his famous 2014 article “Little Sparta”, so what is its story?

Al-Dhafra base constitutes Washington’s main location in the Emirates, but the US military is also present in the port of “Jebel Ali”, which is used by the US Navy.

Al Dhafra base is located about 32 kilometers southwest of Abu Dhabi, and is a base for the Emirati, American and French forces.

It included more than 34,000 members of the US Air Force alongside French forces, and was designed in the form of an enormous convex rectangle, half of which was in the form of a double arrow.

defense agreements

1994: The first defense agreements between the United States of America and the UAE were signed.

1996: The Al-Khobar complex attacks took place in Saudi Arabia, which borders Kuwait, mainly targeting foreign forces present in it.

– The increase in the American presence in the Gulf after the second Gulf War in Kuwait, and with the rise of “jihadist movements” and the rise of their threats.

1997: The American espionage and surveillance activity from the Al Dhafra base began to increase, with the attendance of 300 American soldiers.

Al Dhafra base is home to the US 380th Air Division, the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron responsible for providing critical intelligence information to the highest levels of US command, and an estimated 3,500-3,800 US soldiers.

The base also houses more than 60 aircraft, including Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance planes, AWACS planes, refueling planes of various models, a squadron of F-15S fighters, and F-22s, and it is the only military base outside the borders of the country. The United States of America, which includes this advanced type of warplane.

– A third of the aircraft at the base are devoted to espionage and surveillance operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, and with the entry of the Russian Air Force into the war in Syria, starting (September) 2015, one of the missions of the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron located in Al Dhafra was to prevent clashes and accidents between American and Russian aircraft and coordination between them.

Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE (Reuters)

permanent french base

May 26, 2009: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, accompanied by Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, inaugurated a permanent French military base.

– The French military base in the Emirates includes a naval base in Abu Dhabi port, an air base at Al Dhafra base, and a section for technical support and training, and it came as the culmination of bilateral military relations between the two countries that have strengthened since the second Gulf War.

– When the permanent French base was inaugurated in the UAE, French officials announced at the time that it would initially include four hundred French soldiers, who would be divided into a naval military base based in Abu Dhabi port, and an air base in Al Dhafra, and later the number increased to 750 soldiers, according to the French news agency.

– It was announced at the time that the naval base has a berth of three hundred meters, with a depth of up to two hundred meters, and that it has a “technical area” that includes storage depots.

As for the air base, it was announced at the time that it could receive six military planes, including large cargo planes. In addition, France has a presence in Zayed Military City for training.

– According to French officials, the establishment of the base aims to support French forces operating in the Indian Ocean, as well as “develop bilateral military relations” with Abu Dhabi.

It is the first time that the French have opened a permanent military base for them in fifty years, and it is the first base for France in the Gulf region, knowing that Paris has many military bases in the brown continent.

The French were very excited about the establishment of this base near the Strait of Hormuz, which witnesses an intense maritime movement, and is known to promote 40% of global oil production, and its presence in the strategic Gulf region is “important for the French strategic position, and although it is expensive, it is necessary,” thus explaining French officials.

– According to French media, Sarkozy did not hide at the time that the base was also a “front” for displaying French military technology in the Gulf region in particular, in the hope of promoting its military industry.

– France until that time, for example, failed to market the Rafale aircraft, due to the dominance of the US military industries on the global market, especially the F-16 and its sisters.

The Rafale is a French military combat aircraft weighing about ten tons, and it can carry nuclear warheads, and the French army is its first and main customer, and it is manufactured by the Dassault company.

Paris did not succeed in finding a buyer for the Rafale until 2015, when Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi signed a contract to purchase 24 aircraft, in addition to a multi-mission frigate manufactured by the Maritime Industries Group “DCNS”, in addition to missiles produced by “MBDA” company. And the value of the deal amounted to 5.2 billion euros, and the deal was faced with great criticism due to the bad record of the Egyptian regime in the field of human rights.

2009: French President Nicolas Sarkozy attended the opening ceremony of French military facilities in the Emirates called “Peace Camp”. It was the first to be established outside France since the end of its colonial wave in the middle of the last century, and it was part of Sarkozy’s drive towards reshaping foreign policy away. About Africa as usual French politics.

The French presence in the Emirates included an air facility at Al Dhafra base as well, an independent naval base, a training camp, and intelligence-gathering facilities, with 500 French soldiers.

The opening of the facilities was accompanied by huge Emirati-French deals to buy Rafale planes produced by the French Dassault, and nuclear energy agreements.

– May 2017: The defense agreement signed between Washington and Abu Dhabi in 1994 was reconsidered, and replaced by a new agreement, expressed by the US Defense Department spokesman, “Christopher Sherrod” that “gives the US military the ability to respond more smoothly to a number of scenarios in and around the UAE When necessary,” which clearly indicates that the agreement, whose terms were not published, allowed more presence and flexibility of movement for US forces in and from the UAE.

– June 2019: In the midst of tension between Washington and Tehran, Iran summoned the charge d’affaires of the UAE embassy to protest against the take-off of the American plane – which was shot down by Iran – from the UAE base, Al Dhafra, which Iranians considered a participant in the “aggression” against their country.

– Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced hours after the downing of the drone that it had “taken off from the UAE using stealth technology”, coinciding with the Revolutionary Guards publishing a video showing that it had taken off from Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE.

August 31, 2020: American media said that Jared Kushner, advisor to US President Donald Trump, his son-in-law, and US officials visited the US Al Dhafra base as part of their trip to the UAE.

January 24, 2022: Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said that they targeted sensitive sites in the UAE, including Al Dhafra Air Base, and sites in Saudi Arabia as well, while the UAE Ministry of Defense said it had intercepted two ballistic missiles.

Saree explained – in a televised statement – that his group targeted Al Dhafra Air Base (south of the capital Abu Dhabi) and other sites in the Dubai region, according to him.

January 25, 2022: Pentagon spokesman David Kirby said that the administration of President Joe Biden will discuss the possibility that the attack on the Al Dhafra base targets American forces, and that it takes this seriously.

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