The United States (US) has announced plans to send troops in Saudi Arabia later this month after the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure.
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters on Friday that the deployment of these troops would be “defensive in nature”. The final decision on the total number of troops has not yet been made.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure last week. However, the United States and Saudi Arabia have blamed Iran for the attacks.
What does the Pentagon say?
On Friday, this announcement was made by Mark Esper along with Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford.
Mark Esper said that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates requested assistance in this regard. He added that with the help of these forces, the air and missile defense systems of the two countries will be improved and the US will accelerate the delivery of defense equipment to both of them.
General Dunford described the deployment of troops as ‘moderate’, saying that the number of troops would not be in the thousands. However, he declined to provide further information on the type of forces.
What happened in Saudi Arabia?
A week ago, Abqaiq oil facility and the Khurais oil field were targeted in Saudi Arabia, affecting the global oil supply.
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s Defense Ministry claimed Iran was involved in the attacks, showing the remains of drones and cruise missiles. However, a spokesman said Saudi Arabia was still working on ‘identifying the launch point of the attacks’.
The US is also aware that Iran is involved in these attacks. Senior officials have told US media that they have evidence that the attacks were carried out in southern Iran.
Iran, on the other hand, has repeatedly denied the allegations of involvement in the attacks, and President Hassan Rouhani termed the attacks as “retaliation by the Yemeni people.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recently said in a tweet, “US is in denial if it thinks that Yemeni victims of 4.5 yrs of the worst war crimes wouldn’t do all to strike back.”
US is in denial if it thinks that Yemeni victims of 4.5 yrs of the worst war crimes wouldn't do all to strike back.
Perhaps it's embarrassed that $100s of blns of its arms didn't intercept Yemeni fire.
But blaming Iran won't change that.
Ending the war=only solution for all. pic.twitter.com/w1qUkdfw6M
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 17, 2019
After Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the strikes “an act of war,” Zarif warned on Twitter that Iran does not want war but “we will not hesitate to defend ourselves.”
On @CNN, I emphasized that here's no such thing as a "limited strike". Iran does NOT want war, but we will NOT hesitate to defend ourselves.
Also, Yemenis, under brutal attack for yrs, have powerful motivation to build what it takes to defend themselves.https://t.co/qKYfeFgJAv
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 19, 2019
What is the background of all this?
Houthi rebels had earlier attacked Saudi Arabia’s populations with rockets, missiles and drones. These Houthi rebels are in conflict with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen which backs a president was forced to flee in March 2015 by the rebels when the Yemeni conflict escalated.
Iran is Saudi Arabia’s rival in the region and an adversary of the US as well. After Donald Trump came into power, the United States pulled out of a treaty to restrict Tehran’s nuclear programme.
This year, tensions between the United States and Iran have increased.
The United States blamed Iran for attacks on four oil tankers in the Gulf in May and two in June and July this year. Tehran has denied the allegations in both cases.