Kuwait’s new defense ministry headquarters will be designed and built by the US Army Corps of Engineers and other US-based contractors, if a $1 billion proposal approved by the Biden administration on 22 February comes to fruition.
The State Department approved the proposal and notified Congress yesterday. Lawmakers have 30 days to raise an objection, but are unlikely to do so. Other contractors for the project, which is expected to take seven years, have not yet been identified.
Why it Matters: The Army Corps of Engineers has a long history of supporting infrastructure projects in Kuwait, including significant reconstruction following ouster of the Iraqi military from the country in 1991.
The latest proposal comes as American policymakers are eyeing ways to head off China’s emerging influence in the Gulf.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the infrastructure of a major Non-NATO ally that has been an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” the Pentagon’s statement read.
Kuwait was the first country to sign on to the Belt and Road Initiative. Emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah established a “strategic partnership” with China during a visit to Beijing in 2018, and there have been numerous discussions over Chinese support to develop Kuwaiti megaprojects such as the planned Silk City economic hub.
Know More: Meanwhile, in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, another close strategic partner of Washington’s, construction was reportedly already underway by last year for a facility to be used by the Chinese military near Abu Dhabi, raising alarm bells in Washington.
Tensions over the UAE’s ties with Beijing led American officials to suspend a plan to provide Lockheed-Martin’s F-35 fighter jet to the country. Abu Dhabi later cancelled that request and bought Rafale fighter jets from France.
The Emirati state news agency reported today that the Gulf country would buy 12 Chinese L-15 light attack aircraft with the option to buy 36 more.