The United States Army has removed its most advanced missile defense system and multiple Patriot missile batteries from Saudi Arabia amid missile and drone attacks from Yemen’s Houthi rebels, an Iranian proxy group.
After satellite footage confirmed a U.S. Army Terminal High Altitude Area Defense unit had left Prince Sultan Air Base near Riyadh, along with other surface-to-air missile systems, the Pentagon conceded that the military had redeployed those assets.
The Hill reports how Pentagon press secretary John Kirby subsequently released a statement, seemingly attempting to reassure our allies in the Persian Gulf after the chaotic end to the War in Afghanistan.
“The Defense Department continues to maintain tens of thousands of forces and a robust force posture in the Middle East representing some of our most advanced air power and maritime capabilities, in support of U.S. national interests and our regional partnerships,” Kirby told the AP.
Kirby’s words gave little comfort to those in Riyadh who believe Presidents Obama, Trump, and Biden have all taken actions that will leave them facing Iran alone.
Still, the redeployment of air defense assets occurred after discussions with Saudi Arabia’s defense ministry, who relayed to the Associated Press that the U.S. move came after both sides achieved a “common understanding and realignment of defense strategies.” Reading between the lines, the desire among officials in Washington to allocate more forces to contain the greater threat posed by China and Russia has prevailed.
Domestically, scrutiny has fallen on the Saudi government in recent days, with the first release of FBI documents chronicling their years-long investigation into possible Saudi involvement in the September 11 terror attacks. Though they didn’t find a smoking gun, according to the findings in the first trove of declassified documents, the 9/11 Commission in 2004 found it likely that “charities with significant Saudi government sponsorship diverted funds to al Qaeda.”