UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — US President Donald Trump agreed on Friday to send US troops to bolster Saudi Arabia’s air and missile defenses after the biggest-ever attacks on two oil facilities in the kingdom, which Washington has blamed on Iran.
The Pentagon said the deployment would involve a modest number of troops that would not reach thousands and would be primarily defensive in nature. The Pentagon detailed plans to accelerate the delivery of defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Reuters had previously said the Pentagon was considering sending anti-missile batteries, drones and more combat aircraft. The United States is also considering keeping an aircraft carrier in the region indefinitely. “In response to the kingdom’s request, the president has agreed to send US troops that will be of a defensive nature, focusing mainly on air and missile defense,” US Defense Secretary Mark Esper told a news briefing.
“We will also work to expedite the delivery of defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the UAE to strengthen their self-defense capabilities.” The Pentagon announcement late Friday closed the door for any imminent decision to launch retaliatory attacks against Iran following attacks that have strained global markets. And detecting major gaps in Saudi air defenses.
Trump had said earlier on Friday that he believed military restraint had so far shown “strength” with instead imposing another series of economic sanctions on Iran.
“Because the easiest thing I can do is say yes go ahead,” Trump told reporters at the White House. They destroyed 15 different key things in Iran, but I am not looking forward to doing so if I can. ”But sending troops could anger Iran, which has expressed concern about the United States sending troops earlier this year. It denies responsibility for the attacks on Saudi Arabia.
Yemen’s al-Houthi movement, which is allied with Iran, claimed responsibility for the attacks.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Was the attack launched from Iran?
Relations between the United States and Iran have deteriorated dramatically since Trump withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on its oil exports.
For months, Iranian officials have been making veiled threats, saying that if Iran is prevented from exporting oil, other countries will not be able to do so either.
But Iran has denied any role in a series of recent attacks, including the bombing of tankers in the Gulf and attacks claimed by the Houthis.
US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, referred to southwestern Iran as the area from which the attack was launched, an assessment based at least in part on still-secret images that appear to show Iran preparing for an air strike.
They rejected Houthi claims that the attacks were launched from Yemen.
One of those officials told Reuters the attack may have been authorized by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The United States is worried about being dragged into another Middle East war. The United States has troops in Syria and Iraq, where Iran has strong influence, and Tehran-backed forces operate openly.
US officials fear that Iran’s proxies may try to attack US troops there, which could easily trigger a wider regional conflict.
Saudi Arabia said it had been attacked in total by 25 Delta Wing drones and Ya Ali cruise missiles.
General Joseph Danford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said officials were still discussing the best range of capabilities to defend Saudi Arabia, citing the difficulty of tackling a swarm of drones.
“No single regime will be able to address a threat like this, but using a multi-level defense capability will reduce the risk of drone swarms or other attacks that might come from Iran,” Danford said.
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