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The Persian Gulf

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Persian Gulf

Persian Gulf

Modified from CIA World Fact Book

Where Is It?:

The Persian Gulf, also known as the Arabian Gulf, is a body of water in the Middle East bordered by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Oman. At the northern end of the gulf is the Shatt al-Arab delta which carries water from the Tigris and Euphrates River. At the opposite end of the gulf is the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow passage of great strategic importance through which a significant portion of the world's oil supply flows each day.

History with the United States:

Surrounded by the greatest oil reserves on Earth, the Persian Gulf has long been a vitally important part of the global economy. The British controlled much of the region during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. American interest (and military presence) in and around the gulf has increased steadily since the oil crisis of the 1970s. Maintaining good relations with the countries surrounding the gulf is a mainstay of U.S. foreign policy. When this isn't possible, the United States has attempted to change governments (as with Iraq) or isolate governments (as with Iran).

Regional Highlights:

Some in the region have tried to move beyond an oil-dominated economy. Qatar, site of a major American air base, is home to the Al Jazeera media networks, the most watched channels in the Arab world. United Arab Emirates, also home to an American military base, has become a global leader in construction and media. Six countries around the gulf (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Bahrain) formed an alliance of sorts called the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Outstanding Issues with the United States:

U.S. involvement in Iraq affects American relations with the entire region. The on-going dispute between the United States and Iran, particularly over Iran's nuclear program, is another point of contention. America's military presence in the gulf as a whole is often cited as a grievance by Islamic extremists.
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