The number of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq had been reduced greatly under Barak Obama’s rebalancing strategy in Asia. During the same period, the number of U.S. soldiers in GCC states has been also reduced. There had been 35,953 U.S. soldiers in GCC states in 2011. This number was reduced to 16,311 in 2016, less than half of what it had been in 2011. The main reason for the drop was the reduction in the number of U.S. soldiers on U.S. military bases in GCC states who engaged and supported U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. While the number of U.S. soldiers was reduced, the U.S. maintained its military capability to ensure security for the GCC states, even strengthening its military power on U.S. bases in the UAE and Bahrain.
Washington has strong interests in fighting terrorism in the Middle East: providing security for Israel, and securing a stable supply of crude oil to the United States and other Western countries. As the U.S. military presence in the Gulf region has contributed greatly to securing those interests, Washington intends to maintain its military presence in the Gulf region.
Russia interfered in Syria in September 2015. However, Russia does not have military interests in the Gulf region, but economic interests such as arms sales and oil concessions. Russian influence without a military presence in the Gulf region is thereby limited.