United States Sending Troops to Bolster Saudi Defenses After Attack

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday approved sending American troops to bolster Saudi Arabia’s air and missile defenses after the largest-ever attack on the kingdom’s oil facilities, which Washington has squarely blamed on Iran.

The Pentagon said the deployment would involve a moderate number of troops – not numbering thousands – and would be primarily defensive in nature. It also detailed plans to expedite delivery of military equipment to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Reuters has previously reported that the Pentagon was considering sending anti-missile batteries, drones and more fighter jets. The United States is also considering keeping an aircraft carrier in the region indefinitely.

“In response to the kingdom’s request, the president has approved the deployment of U.S. forces, which will be defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense,” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a news briefing.

“We will also work to accelerate the delivery of military equipment to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to enhance their ability to defend themselves.”

The Pentagon’s late Friday announcement appeared to close the door to any imminent decision to wage retaliatory strikes against Iran following the attack, which rattled global markets and exposed major gaps in Saudi Arabia’s air defenses.

Trump said earlier on Friday that he believed his military restraint so far showed “strength,” as he instead imposed another round of economic sanctions on Tehran.

“Because the easiest thing I could do, ‘Okay, go ahead. Knock out 15 different major things in Iran.’ … But I’m not looking to do that if I can,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

But the deployment could further aggravate Iran, which has responded to previous U.S. troop deployments this year with apprehension. It denies responsibility for the attack on Saudi Arabia.

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which has been battling a Saudi-led military coalition that includes the UAE, has claimed responsibility for the strikes.

ATTACK LAUNCHED FROM IRAN?

Relations between the United States and Iran have deteriorated sharply since Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord last year and reimposed sanctions on its oil exports.

For months, Iranian officials issued veiled threats, saying that if Tehran were blocked from exporting oil, other countries would not be able to do so either.

However, Iran has denied any role in a series of attacks in recent months, including bombings of tankers in the Gulf and strikes claimed by the Houthis.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have fingered southwest Iran as the staging ground for the attack, an assessment based at least in part on still-classified imagery showing Iran appearing to prepare an aerial strike.

They have dismissed Houthi claims that the attacks originated in Yemen.

One of the officials told Reuters the strike may have been authorized by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The United States is wary of getting dragged into another conflict in the Middle East. It has troops positioned in Syria and Iraq, two countries where Iranian influence is strong and Iran-backed forces operate openly.

U.S. officials fear Iran’s proxies might attempt to strike American troops there, something that could easily trigger a broader regional conflict.

Saudi Arabia has said it was attacked by a total of 25 drones and missiles, including Iranian Delta Wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and “Ya Ali” cruise missiles.

U.S. Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said officials were still hammering out the best array of capabilities to defend Saudi Arabia, noting the difficulty combating a swarm of drones.

“No single system is going to be able to defend against a threat like that, but a layered system of defensive capabilities would mitigate the risk of swarms of drones or other attacks that may come from Iran,” Dunford said.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali, Eric Beech and Mohammad Zargham Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Cynthia Osterman)

Responses

  1. “Iran has been a long-time state sponsor of terrorism.” I Ching

    True, but…

    I would place Saudi Arabia ahead of Iran, today, especially now that King Donald The Loser backs and supports them.

    Before the King started selling them millions of dollars of condos and renting them whole floors in his hotels, back in 2015, he labeled S.A. as the leading supporter of terrorism.

    They have been supplying free Salafist korans to our prisons for many years, and a friend in Indonesia says that S.A. has been riling up the natives there over the last few years.

    We sell arms to S.A. and, low and behold, ISIS ends up getting some. Put that on your Wheaties in the morning, will ya?

    A lot of people are confused about how dangerous Saudi Arabia is, but there’s our King, right in there messing things up.

    1. Confused: Our alliance with SA has always been an unholy one – through many different administrations and decades. Used to be we’d buy their oil and we were always at a disadvantage. In the early 70’s Nixon promised to sell them military arms in exchange for making the US dollar the standard for buying and selling oil worldwide (after leaving the gold standard) and allowing our air force to use their bases. Now, thanks to ‘King’ Trump, we are the leading exporter of oil and gas in the world. We don’t need Saudi oil, but Western Europe needs that supply through the Strait of Hormuz. Trump is doing the right thing. Keep the pressure on Iran with sanctions and stay out of direct military conflict. Sunni and Shia Islam have been at each other’s throats for over 2,000 years. Trump had nothing to do with that.

    1. Be careful, Tom. You’ll initiate a further mental collapse in the one who says he is always confused about everything. We are to make love, offer chocolates and kisses; not help defend our allies against the Muslim warlords.

  2. Phil,

    Iran has been a long-time state sponsor of terrorism. Remember the attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon? Remember the USS Cole?

    The problem with playing defense is that it’s reactive. Dealing with such a thug regime requires an aggressive posture if nothing else.

    I agree that the Saudis F’d up on this one. They are now talking with the Russians about an air-defense system just like the one supplied to Iran. (the problems with this are obvious) While this may serve the Kingdom’s needs it also admits that they just could not get it done in the first place.

    The Saudis and OPEC are not the power-brokers they once were, thanks to fracking and US oil strength. Even Israel is now energy-independent. What the EU and the UK need to decide is which side to take. China and Russia clearly side with Iran.

    1. We are in agreement with Iran being a long-time state sponsor of terrorism. —-I am not familiar with any link found of al Qaeda’s attack on USS Cole being traced to Iran. I do recall vividly the Bush administration (Cheney & Rumsfeld) asserting Iraq’s responsibility for 9/11 attacks. Those assertions proved as WRONG as Saddam having WMD’s. I also recall the Bush assertion that the Iraq military action would last 6 days, not 6 weeks. Also Wrong. I am confused as to your point in the Saudi’s decreased power in the oil market and the U.S. needing to send troops to the Middle East to protect THEM.

  3. John Gagliano,
    “Pretty certain the claimed responsibility and we don’t know what equipment they have. For all we know,military is supplying them”

    I’m also pretty certain, but have seen some conflicting coverage. Iran is a known sponsor of global terrorism, hating the Saudis, AND supplying the Houthis with equipment and “military advisors”, ie. their own troops.

    Despite the far-fetched conspiracy theories of idiots, that the KSAs staged the evidence with Iranian weapons, Occam’s razor and history say otherwise. Iran did it.

  4. I still can’t dismiss yet S.A. using Iranian drones to set up the attacks on themselves, to confuse King Donald The Loser and his cronies.

    I wouldn’t put it past them to think that it would work on them, at least work enough to get a hot war started. All the more in their favour.

    Only 13% of Americans think we should get involved, even less than half of that think we should get our troops involved, etc.

  5. Saudi Arabia should reimburse America for the cost of these activities.

    1. I had faith that there would come a day that you posted something I could agree. It happened.

  6. Just a thought. If the Saudi’s defensive systems were not able to detect or react to “the swarm of drones or other attacks that my come from Iran” is the U.S. able to defend against them in protecting American bases and embassies in the Middle East?

    1. Iran has shown, in the past, that they are quite capable of attacking US facilities in OTHER regions. They can hit us ANYWHERE, if we provoke them enough.

  7. I thought trump was make America great not send more of our troops to fight another country’s fake war. Saudi Arabia is the biggest exporter of terrorism. Killed a US reporter but yeah, let’s help them out with their fake attack

  8. The ARAMCO attack is a frame-up to escalate Iran-KSA conflict and instigate war. The attack was pin-point, sophisticated one which no rebels and not even Iran could manage with that military precision and accuracy done by stealth planes and framed-up remnants of Iranian drone. This is not so simple as Houthi rebel attack… far more dangerous conspiracy…..

    1. Yemen CLAIMED responsibility. US just ignored it. The government wants war and by hook or by crook they will get it

  9. If Iran’s attacks threaten the global oil supply, then why isn’t the world responding?

    Iran has committed an act of war and blaming the Houthis, savages who lack the materials, equipment, and ability to launch drones, is a lie. The Iranian Delta Wing and Ya Ali missiles were not built from kits.

    1. Pretty certain the claimed responsibility and we don’t know what equipment they have. For all we know,military is supplying them

  10. “Drop NUKES on Iran instead.” Confused James

    Do you fully understand just how dangerous that kind of talk is?

    Seriously, what do you think would happen as a result of dropping even one nuclear weapon on Iran?

    Do you think that any Iranian survivors would just sit in their hands and do nothing in retaliation?

    Do you think that the rest of the world’s nations would do nothing to us? We would become a pariah shunned by all other countries. Isolated, if not outright attacked, directly or indirectly. NOBODY would want to deal with us – we would become an outcast, and rightly so.

    Is that what you want to see happen?

    You are dangerously confused about international relations and a loudmouthed fool.

    1. Come on, General. It is James. He is blowing off steam. His hero Trump sent American troops to defend Muslims!!—-the only thing worse in his world is American troops defending Hillary Clinton.

      1. Hillary should be under a prison somewhere. No troops needed. That’s not steam you see; that’s your “climate change” hoax blowing back in your face.

  11. Don’t be confused as to just how dangerous doing this is. There is precedent for us to know.

    The last time the we put troops on Saudi soil, ISIS used it as a rallying point, and it was used as a pretext for the 9/11 attacks.

    1. That’s pure Socialist BS. I have a cousin who was stationed in Saudi Arabia back in the 1950’s when I was stationed in Alaska. Get your facts straight – IF you know what “facts” are.

      MORE down votes from those who agree you don’t know what you’re talking about – again.(or yet?)

    1. I’m going to disagree on the application of nukes. The collateral damage would be bad for optics AND would set a precedent for other nuclear powers. Remember, the US remains the only country to use nukes in time of war.

      We have plenty of options using conventional ordnance like missiles, cruise missiles, and our own drones. They are also far more discriminatory in their targeting abilities.

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