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The BBC's Middle East correspondent Frank Gardner
"Many Arabs deeply resent the presence of US bases on Arab soil"
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Audio
"Delta is the highest alert status"
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Tuesday, 24 October, 2000, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
American troops on high alert
US troops in Middle East
Some US forces in the Gulf and Turkey have been put on the highest state of alert, following threats of possible attack.

The alert comes less than two weeks after an apparent terrorist attack on the navy ship USS Cole in Yemen.

"Some of our forces in the Gulf have been put on a very high state of alert in response to specific threats," said a US official.

US troops in Qatar, Bahrain and Turkey are reported to be on "Delta" alert, the highest state of military alert.

The New York Times said that Saudi Arabia was also on the list.

A US State Department official said on Monday that the US embassy in Qatar had been closed to the public since Saturday, but was scheduled to reopen on Tuesday.

A small number of US troops are based in Qatar, with the US Fifth Fleet headquartered in neighbouring Bahrain.

Thousands of US troops are based in Turkey, where the Incirlik air base is used by British and American warplanes policing a Western no-fly zone over northern Iraq.

Suspect

US officials said that Saudi exile Osama bin Laden was one possible suspect for any action.

Incirlik police
Turkish police near the Incirlik air base check drivers
He is also considered a possible perpetrator of the bomb attack on the USS Cole, which tore a hole in the side of the guided-missile destroyer, killing 17 US sailors and injuring more than 30.

US President Bill Clinton and Defence Secretary William Cohen have warned that the United States will vigorously pursue those responsible for the bombing and bring them to justice.

US troops in the Gulf have suffered terrorist attacks before.

In June 1996, a bomb planted in a lorry exploded at a housing complex for US military personnel in the Saudi Arabian city of Dhahran, killing 19.

Bahraini warning

The Emir of Bahrain has told US President Bill Clinton that there will be no peace in the Middle East until the Palestinians have their own state.

Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, underlined "the need for the United States to pursue their efforts in the peace process to consolidate security and stability in the region.

"The Arabs, people and governments, are not looking for wars or tensions, but no Arab will agree to yield his rights, particularly in Jerusalem," he said.

The BBC Middle East correspondent says that many Arabs deeply resent the presence of US bases on Arab soil, because of the United States' close alliance with Israel.

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See also:

19 Oct 00 | Middle East
Yemen blast inquiry yields clues
18 Oct 00 | Middle East
Clinton pledges to hunt Yemen bombers
13 Oct 00 | Middle East
Explosion hits UK Yemen embassy
13 Oct 00 | Middle East
Terror alert after US warship blast
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