United States Central Command (CENTCOM) recently launched warplanes towards Iran from based in the Persian Gulf after receiving reports that the country was preparing to attack Saudi ArabiaAs reported Washington Post during the weekend.
In response to the credible threat of Iranian ballistic missile and drone attacks, the US military raised its alert level, with the White House National Security Council saying it was “concerned about the threat” and in constant contact with the Gulf country.
“CENTCOM is committed to our long-standing strategic military partnership with Saudi Arabia,” command spokesman Joe Buccio told the Washington Post on Saturday. “We are not going to discuss the details of the operation.”
While the exact location from which the planes were launched is unclear, the US maintains significant air assets in the Persian Gulf, including F-22 fighter jets in Saudi Arabia.
The deployment, details the Washington Post, shows that despite his furious reaction to the decision to Saudi Arabia last month to cut oil production in the face of global shortages, and threats of retaliation, the government of Biden bets that the close security relationship that has existed for decades between Washington and Riyadh can be saved.
Those ties, and a commitment to help protect its strategic partners – especially against Iran– are part of the US defenses in the Middle East.
There are currently some 2,500 US forces in Saudi Arabia, many of them involved in intelligence work and high-tech training. The United States is the supplier of nearly three-quarters of all weapons systems used by the Saudi military, including constantly needed parts, repairs and upgrades.
Military sales to the kingdom have been the subject of repeated controversy in recent years, as many in Congress have opposed them. While President Donald Trump, who has bragged about potential US sales to the Saudis, vetoed attempts by Congress to halt certain transactions, Biden banned the kingdom from buying US offensive weapons shortly after taking office.
Since then, there have been two major Saudi purchases, of air-to-air missiles and spare missiles for Patriot air defense batteries. Another order for 300 Patriot missiles – at more than $3 million each – was approved by the State Department in August, after a visit by Biden to the kingdom, in which he allegedly believed he had cemented a deal with the crown prince to do not reduce oil production.
Although Congress did not formally object to the new sale within 30 days, there has been no public indication that the next step in the transaction has been taken: the signing of a contract with the Department of Defense. The Pentagon has “nothing to announce at this time” regarding the sale, spokesman Lt. Col. Cesar Santiago said Friday.
Although two US-controlled Patriot systems remain in Saudi Arabia to protect US personnel from missile attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen, and presumably Iran, the bulk of the systems used there were acquired by the Saudis years ago. and belong to the kingdom.
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