ABU DHABI (UAE), May 26 (RIA Novosti) - France opened on Tuesday a permanent military base in the Persian Gulf, in a bid to bolster security in the region.
The base, located in Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates, will be home to 400 to 500 French personnel from the Navy, Army and Air Force and will effectively control the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
Up until now, only the United States has had military bases in the oil-rich region, but Persian Gulf officials have been talking about bringing in other military partners for several years as a result of declining U.S. influence among Arab countries.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, an average of about 15 tankers carrying 16.5 to 17 million barrels of crude oil pass through the strait every day. This represents 40% of the world's seaborne oil shipments, and 20% of all world shipments.
The French base will start receiving its first warships in the next few weeks, the officials said, and will also become one of the key support points for an international naval task force fighting piracy off the Somali coast.
Arab experts believe that the presence of a French military base will bring about more balance in the region, boost Arab Gulf countries' deterrence against Iran and subsequently improve stability.