A top commander in southwest Asia reminded U.S military personnel stationed in Muslim countries in the Middle East of the restrictions placed on them during Ramadan. According to a report by the U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs, Brig. Gen. John Quintas, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing commander in Southwest Asia, said that the U.S. is "committed to the concepts of tolerance, freedom and diversity." But he added that soldiers should "become more informed and appreciative of the traditions and history of the people in this region of the world... [R]emember we are guests here and that the host nation is our shoulder-to-shoulder, brothers and sisters in arms, risking their lives for our common cause to defeat terrorism."
During the 30-day religious celebration of Ramadan, even non-Muslims are expected to obey local laws regarding eating, drinking, and using tobacco in public. Violators can be fined up to $685 or receive two months in jail. A spokesperson for United States Central Command [CENTCOM] said that "we are not aware of any specific instances of anyone being arrested" for such violations.
\For military personnel outside of U.S.-controlled areas, the only exceptions for the rules are for those "performing strenuous labor." Such personnel are "authorized to drink and consume as much food as they need to maintain proper hydration and energy." It is unclear what constitutes "strenuous labor" or whether additional exceptions might be made during a heatwave affecting some areas of the region that has taken hundreds of lives.
When asked if the restrictions were new or simply a continuation of past policy, a CENTCOM spokesperson replied:
There has been no change in policy... [W]hile the US does not have a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the UAE, it is common practice to ensure all Soldiers, Sailors, Airman, and Marines deployed to Muslim countries are culturally aware that during the month of Ramadan, practicing Muslims do not consume anything from sunrise to sunset as a pillar of their faith. Commanders throughout the AOR create policies to ensure their subordinates respect the laws and culture of our hosts at all times.
The report on CENTCOM's website is accompanied by the following graphic urging military personnel to "respect Ramadan."