US military: Annual Gulf exercise at risk over Qatar crisis

AP

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) A U.S. Air Force general warned Friday that a major annual military exercise between Gulf Arab countries and America is at risk over the ongoing diplomatic crisis engulfing Qatar.

Eagle Resolve, which sees countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council send forces alongside Americans to simulate working as a multinational force in battle, is being examined in light of the crisis, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian said.

This year's Eagle Resolve exercise, held in Kuwait in March, involved 1,000 U.S. troops.

Another leadership course already has been cancelled over the crisis, Harrigian said. The Associated Press in October first reported exercises were at risk over the monthslong dispute.

"We continue to look at each and every exercise and have discussions," said Harrigian, who oversees Air Force Central Command in Qatar. He acknowledged that includes Eagle Resolve.

The Qatar crisis began June 5, when Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched an economic boycott while closing off the energy-rich nation's land border and its air and sea routes. The quartet of Arab nations pointed to Qatar's alleged support of extremists and overly warm ties to Iran. Qatar long has denied supporting extremists and shares a massive offshore natural gas field with Tehran that makes its citizens have the highest per-capita income in the world.

The Qatar diplomatic crisis has torn apart the typically clubby GCC, a regional Arab bloc created in part as a counterbalance to Iran. The U.S. military holds exercises in part to build the confidence of local forces, many of which use American-made equipment.

U.S. and Gulf allies also have regularly held joint, smaller-scale exercises in the region.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jongambrellap. His work can be found at http://apne.ws/2galNpz.

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