In the wake of Iran’s attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities last month, the Pentagon announced an additional troop deployment to the Kingdom to counter what’s seen as growing tensions between the two regional powers.
The United States is deploying an additional 2,800 U.S. forces to Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of Iran’s attack on Saudi oil facilities in September, the Pentagon announced on Friday. The deployment includes fighter squadrons, early detection aircraft, and air defense systems.
The new forces will join the 200 American service members that are part of the Patriot air defense battery and radars sent to Saudi Arabia in late September in response to the Sept. 14 attack that the United States blames on Iran.
The royal family must be worried to allow so many Americans to be deployed in Saudi Arabia. Tensions rose sharply yesterday following an apparent attack on an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Saudi Arabia.
There is some question about who was actually responsible.
#BREAKING: Reports show that the attack on #Iran's oil tanker #Sinopa is not carried-out directly by Royal #SaudiArabia Navy in #RedSea near #Jeddah. Sources close to Iranian owner of the ship claim that is a sabotage is most likely carried-out by #AlQaeda on request of #KSA! pic.twitter.com/qpxtRaW4Og
— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) October 11, 2019
Meanwhile, Donald Trump said in remarks to reporters that the Saudis were paying for everything.
NEW: On deployment of thousands of additional U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia, Pres. Trump says, "Are you ready: Saudi Arabia, at my request, has agreed to pay us for everything we're doing. That's a first!" https://t.co/8kdbxWyuln pic.twitter.com/IKNVrgFblt
— ABC News (@ABC) October 11, 2019
According to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the deployment is meant to deter Iranian aggression.
In a bid to better shield Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon said it was sending two additional Patriot batteries and one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters the deployments were designed to deter Iran.
“We thought it was important to continue to deploy forces to deter and defend and to send the message to the Iranians: Do not strike another sovereign state, do not threaten American interests, American forces, or we will respond,” Esper told reporters during a press briefing.
We have other forces in the region, including a carrier battle group. It’s unclear whether the carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln, will be replaced or whether additional naval assets will be deployed.
With the president pulling troops back in Syria because he doesn’t believe the U.S. should be a “police force,” Trump opens himself up to charges of hypocrisy. If regional players can settle the Syria mess, why should we help the Saudis?
“I don’t want to stay there for the next 40 years,” Trump said. “It’s not going to do anything. … I campaigned on the fact that I was going to bring our soldiers home, and bring them home as rapidly as possible.”
Part of keeping that promise, Trump said, is not thrusting U.S. forces into even more conflicts that have no end in sight.
“We interject ourselves into wars, and we interject ourselves into tribal wars and revolutions and all of these things that are very — they’re not the kind of thing that you settle the way we’d like to see it settled. It just doesn’t — it just doesn’t work that way. … And it’s time to come back home.”
Except for the troops in Saudi Arabia.
Those words ring hollow following the announced deployment of 3,000 extra troops to Saudi Arabia. It’s not that the deployment isn’t necessary or desirable. It’s that Trump has trapped himself in his own isolationist rhetoric. It makes his foreign policy appear to be incoherent and chaotic.