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Britain opens Naval Support Facility in Bahrain

Bahraini soldiers [file photo]
Bahraini soldiers [file photo]

Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, officially inaugurated Britain's new Naval Support Facility in Bahrain today, along with the tiny nation's Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Gulf News has reported. The facility has cost more than $50 million and gives Britain a stronger presence in the Gulf.

The British government proposed having such a base back in 2014. Both countries hope that it will help to increase military cooperation between the Royal Navy and its Bahraini counterpart.

"Our Armed Forces are the face of Global Britain and our presence in Bahrain will play a vital role in keeping Britain safe as well as underpinning security in the Gulf," explained Secretary of Defence Gavin Williamson. "Britain is a major player on the world stage and this new Naval Support Facility will help us tackle the growing threats to our nation wherever they are across the globe, protecting our way of life."

Some 500 naval personnel will be deployed to the facility. It will be the first time that Britain's armed forces have been based "permanently" in Bahrain since the country's independence almost 50 years ago. The changing dynamics in the region have meant that Britain has also increased its military presence in Kuwait, where up to 40 troops have been stationed ever since the First Gulf War ended in 1991.

"The opening of the NSF represents an important milestone in the joint efforts of Bahrain and the United Kingdom to support regional security and stability," commented the Bahraini Crown Prince. "It is a clear indication of the strength of relations between the two countries."

Early this week, Bahrain announced that it has discovered a substantial oil and gas field on the Kingdom's west coast. As tensions rise in the Gulf, foreign military and political support has been sought by the local kingdoms and emirates.

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