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According to US policies in the Middle East and especially in the Persian Gulf region, the commander of CENTCOM established the Joint Task Force Middle East (JTFME) because the Middle East region was important to US foreign policy. The commander of the existing Middle East Force lacked the staff and communications resources necessary to command and control this expanded force. The new JTFME conducted over 100 convoys and operated between 28 and 33 navy combatant vessels serving as escorts in or near the Persian Gulf region in 1987 and 1988.
The GCC members considered the USCENTCOM as destabilizing the Persian Gulf region. In this regard, the US-Omani agreement was in opposition to Kuwaiti conditions that called all GCC members to cancel all basing agreements with external powers:
The first basis on which the Gulf Cooperation Council should be founded should be no foreign military bases in the Gulf. Anyone who accepts this is welcome as a full member in the regional organization. Anyone who rejects this principle has no place in it at all […] (An-Nisf, May 5,1981).
So we conclude that the GCC countries at the beginning of its establishment believed there should not be foreign military bases in the Persian Gulf.
President Carter established the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Forces (RDJTF) with a capacity of 222,000 soldiers in May 1980. The soldiers were to be deployed in the Diego Garcia Island in the Indian Ocean that was leased from the British, because from this location RDJTF forces could easily link with airlifted troops in the Persian Gulf. Carter’s Doctrine was a new military strategy based on the premise that the United States should interfere directly with military forces rather than rely on its allies to defend its interests.
Since 1980, the USCENTCOM has increased its military capabilities so that the Reagan Administration strengthened the Carter strategy and decided to increase troops of RDJTF to 450,000 in 1982. When there were some reports that the Soviet Union was making Afghanistan as a base for its military troops and with an eye on the Persian Gulf region, the U.S. planed to persuade Turkey to permit the use of NATO bases by USCENTCOM by upgrading Turkish airfields as an alternative in the event of a crisis in 1982 (Halloran, November 14, 1982, p. 21). According to the agreements between the Persian Gulf states and the U.S. for using facilities of these states in response to a direct Soviet invasion, the GCC states refused to permit U.S. forces to interfere in an internal GCC conflict. So USCENTCOM’s access to facilities in the Persian Gulf states rested on two conditions: first, the perceptions of GCC leaders regarding U.S. intentions in the area and second, on the supposed Soviet threat.
3.9 The policy of Dual containment (the policy of Clinton’s administration – Clinton’s Doctrine)
During 1993-1997, the policy of dual containment was selected by Clinton’s administration to prevent Iran and Iraq from any action jeopardising the interests of the international community especially the United State of America. The new policy of dual containment was the result of the new world order in which the U.S. found itself as the hub of the new world after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Also, this new policy put away the balance of power policy that was the main policy of previous American administrations which had sought a balance of power between Iran and Iraq in order to contain these two nations from any aggression to the global peace and security.
The background of the Dual containment policy goes back to 1991 when the US seriously assumed responsibility for the Persian Gulf security and arranged the GCC states dependence on the US and West for security and decided to contain two main Persian Gulf powers, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq. Some incidents intensified the dual containment policy: 1) the Iranian description of the U.S. as the “Great Satan” had its effects in the media, in congress, and on the public and in the attitude of lower-level bureaucrats; 2) the terrorist bombing of the U.S. military camp at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia in 1996 that killed 19 American servicemen and raised concerns that Iran was behind the attack (Gary Sick, p. 66).
During the Dual Containment strategy, there were several preventive actions against the Islamic Republic of Iran such as sanctions, embargoes, and limitation on transfer of sensitive technologies to Iran and Iraq. The main sanctions were on the oil and gas industry in Iran. For example, the U.S. congress prepared a bill that would impose sanctions on any foreign corporation that invested 40USD million or more in the Iranian oil and gas industry (after one year reduced to USD20 million). The bill was known as the Iran-Libya Sanction Act (ILSA) because Libya was later added by the senate (Alikhani, 2000).
During the Dual Containment period, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the sheikhdom of Kuwait were mainly worried about the conventional threat from Iraq and saw Iran as a counterbalance to the Iraqi regime (Katzman, 2006). Other lower states of the Persian Gulf region such as the UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain tended to view Iran as a greater danger than Iraq.
In 1969 when containment was effective at causing the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kissinger described containment as the expense of the US ability to “contribute to building a stable and creative world order.” However, twenty five years later, Kissinger described the containment policy as a “doctrine of perpetual struggle” based on “the age-old American dream of a peace achieved by the conversion of the adversary” (Kissinger, 1994). The US victorious containment policy during the Cold War had a clear mandate for continued US primacy, established in the 20th century that also involves the Dual Containment policy. The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990 threatened US strategic interests in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, so it was determined after the Persian Gulf War that a long time US military presence would be required in the Persian Gulf region to serve as deterrent for what the Clinton administration called “rouge states”. During the 1990s, the term “rogue states” would come to describe those states with an apparent disregard for international treaties and norms, and a desire to develop, acquire, or distribute Weapons of Mass Destruction (Litwak, 2002).
The administration position of the United States toward Iran and Iraq, before declaration of the Dual Containment policy, was indicated by Anthony Lake, the assistant to president Clinton for national security affairs. Lake has stated that US policy must face the reality of unruly states that chose to remain outside the family of nations. These nations, which Anthony Lake labeled as “backlash states” were Cuba, North Korea, Libya, Iran and Iraq. Anthony Lake, with acknowledgements to George Kennan, predicted that after having successfully contained Soviet power, the US “[…] as sole superpower […] now faces a less formidable challenge in containing the band of outlaws” (Lake, 1994a, pp. 60-62). Defending Dual Containment, Lake claimed that it was a “realistic and sustainable policy”, though he recognized the risk that Iran and Iraq “may be driven together in their efforts to resist the West” and that Iran may be inclined to “meddle and prey on Iraqi weakness (Lake, 1994a, pp. 45-46,55). Lake suggested three methods for containing the influence of these states: 1) isolation 2) pressure ,and 3) diplomatic and economic measures (Lake, 1994a, pp. 45-46,55).
3.9.1 Basic codes of the dual containment policy
The basic roles of the Dual Containment policy were outlined by Martin Indyk, the Special Assistant to the President for Near East and South Asian affairs, On May 18, 1993. He declared that the U.S. would no longer play the game of balancing Iran against Iraq. The strength of the United States and its friends in the region – Egypt, Israel, Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman – would allow Washington to “counter both the Iraqi and Iranian regimes. “We will not need to depend on one to counter the other” (The-Washington-Institute-for-Near-East-Policy, 1993).
Indyk in his speech also expressed that the Clinton administration’s goal in Iraq was to establish clearly that the current regime in Iraq was a criminal and absolute regime and a regime change in Iraq was the ultimate goal of American policy. Although Indyk noted that America’s policy was not to force the breakup of Iraq and America’s commitment to maintain the territorial integrity of countries, in fact he left little doubt that a regime change was the ultimate goal of American policy (The-Washington-Institute-for-Near-East-Policy, 1993). Other side of Dual Containment was Iran and Martin Indyk indicated that U.S. action toward Iran had no widespread support such as sanctions against Iraq that had the weight of the United Nations resolutions as legitimizing force, so containment of Iran would be more problematic and sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran must be multilateral. Indyk’s opinion, containment of Iran was different from Iraq. He believed that America must persuade other nations not to engage in military transactions or “normal commercial relations” with Iran.
3.9.2 Factors of supporting Dual Containment Policy
In the view of the Clinton administration, there was a set of geopolitical situations that enabled the United States to follow the policy of containing both Iran and Iraq without having to build up one against the other in order to balance the two regional powers:
1- End of the Cold War and collapse of the Soviet Union
The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the United States being raised to the position of the main superpower in the world, so the United States now has a unique and brazen ability to conduct global economic and military policies

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