BREAKING NEWS: US announces they are deploying more troops to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in response to the strikes on oil field
- Pentagon said on Friday it would increase troop deployments in Saudi Arabia
- New deployment is thought to number in the hundreds but specifics are few
- Follows the September 14 drone attack on Saudi oil processing facilities
- Yemen’s Houthis claim responsibility but Washington blames Tehran
The U.S. is sending more American troops to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to protect oil infrastructure, the Pentagon said on Friday.
The Pentagon said the deployment would involve a moderate number of troops and would be primarily defensive in nature.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the new deployment is a first step, and would not rule out additional moves down the road. He said it’s a response to requests from the Saudis and the UAE to help improve their air and missile defenses.
U.S. Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the deployment would not reach thousands of forces but he declined to be more specific.
Picture taken 11 October 2005 shows two US seamen, part of the 30-strong US Navy detachment positioned atop the Khor Al-Amaya Oil Terminal. The US announced a new increase in troop deployments to the region on Friday amid tensions with Iran
Damage is seen on Friday to Aramco’s oil processing facility after the recent Sept. 14 attack in Abqaiq, near Dammam in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province
It follows the September 14 drone attack on the state-owned Saudi Aramco oil processing facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais in eastern Saudi Arabia.
Though Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack, Saudi blamed Iran, which supports the Shiite Houthis against the Saudi-backed Sunni elements in Yemen’s ongoing civil war.
Washington has also pointed the finger at Tehran, condemning an ‘act of war’ which knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production and sent global oil prices soaring.
On Friday, President Donald Trump laid out a new series of economic sanctions against Iran.
Also on Friday, the Houthis announced a sudden halt to attacks on Saudi Arabia.
Saudi engineers use cranes to remove the mangled wreckage of production machinery at the Khurais oilfield, one of two facilities hit by dramatic drone and missile strikes last Saturday
In July, the Pentagon first announced that it was sending troops back to Saudi after years of withdrawal.
Those forces deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base, 85 miles south of Riyadh, and included fighter jets, air defense missiles and more than 500 troops.
The base, which at one time housed more than 60,000 U.S. troops, was abandoned by Washington after the toppling of Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein in 2003.
History of U.S. troop deployments to Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is the nexus of Sunni Muslim power in the Middle East, and is unofficially allied with Israel against their mutual rival, the Shiite Muslim powerhouse Iran.
Beginning during Operation Desert Shield in August 1990, while preparing for the Gulf War, the U.S. sent a large troop contingent to Saudi Arabia.
At one time, Prince Sultan Air Base housed as many as 60,000 U.S. troops, supported by an all-American array of creature comforts like fast-food restaurants and swimming pools.
Following the Gulf War, thousands of U.S. troops remained in Saudi Arabia, many of them supporting the enforcement of no-fly zones over Iraq.
The presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, which is home to the holiest sites in Islam, provoked vicious objections from Sunni fundamentalists, and was the main stated motivation behind the 9/11 attacks.
U.S. troops remained in Saudi to support the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but following the end of major operations at the outset of the Iraq War the forces in Saudi were quickly withdrawn.
Since 2003, Prince Sultan Air Base has been abandoned, and the only U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia have been a handful of technical and training personnel housed on Saudi-owned bases.