Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has been touring the world, bolstering relationships with foreign nations like Vietnam and Indonesia. Mattis was in Oman just on 11 March, and has since left for other nations in the region. On Friday, he traveled to Bahrain to meet with the King, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and his son, the prince. There, Mattis expressed his gratitude for the kingdom’s support in the fight against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.

He also thanked them for their historical support since WWII. Bahrain has accommodated the United States Navy for decades — the Navy Support Activity Bahrain, a U.S. Navy base, is located in the country. Since Operation Iraqi Freedom, the base there has continued to expand over the years. It is home to the Fifth Fleet and NAVCENT (United States Naval Forces Central Command) alike. Strategic locations like this around the globe cannot operate without good will between both nations, and Mattis’ trip is, in part, aimed at promoting this mutually beneficial relationship.

Pentagon chief spokesperson Dana W. White said that,

Mattis condemned Iran’s continued efforts to undermine regional security, to include supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, destabilizing actions in Iraq, and facilitating weapons shipments to Yemen in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.”

Bahrain is a powerful ally among the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, otherwise known as Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) unity. The GCC is made up of six countries in the area: Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. These countries make up the entirety of the Arab nations on the Persian Gulf, excluding Iraq. They have recently proclaimed their goal of lessening their dependency on oil for their  economies, and pursuing other means of economic growth.

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The Kingdom of Bahrain is a small island nation in Persian Gulf, just next to Saudi Arabia and north of Qatar. It is a first world country that has the fastest growing economy in the Arab world. Like the other nations of the area, it is well within the oil industry, and Bahrain is known for its banking (particularly among Islamic countries) and of course import/export of petroleum.

Featured image: Defense Secretary James N. Mattis walks with Bahraini Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Shaikh Yousuf bin Ahmed bin Hussain Al Jalahma after arriving in Manama, Bahrain, March 14, 2018. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith