DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – The US army is investigating the potential for utilizing a Crimson Sea port in Saudi Arabia and two extra airports within the kingdom amid rising tensions with Iran, the army stated on Tuesday.
Describing the work as “contingency planning”, the US army stated it had already examined unloading and cargo overland from the port of Saudi Arabia in Yanbu, an vital oil pipeline terminal within the kingdom.
Utilizing Yanbu, in addition to air bases at Tabuk and Taif alongside the Crimson Sea, would give the US army extra choices alongside an important waterway that has been more and more attacked by suspected mining and drone boat assaults by Yemen’s Iranian – backed Houthi rebels.
The announcement comes, nevertheless, as Saudi-US relations stay strained by the killing of Washington Put up columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 and the Kingdom’s ongoing struggle in Yemen through the first days of President Joe Biden’s administration.
Distributing – even briefly – American troops to bases within the kingdom, which is residence to the Muslim holy metropolis of Mecca, may resume anger amongst extremists.
US Navy Captain Invoice City, a spokesman for Central Command, stated the analysis of the websites had been happening for over a yr, triggered by a drone-and-missile assault in September 2019 within the coronary heart of the Saudi oil trade.
Saudi Arabia and the US have blamed the assault, which briefly halved Saudi oil manufacturing and noticed a rise in oil costs in Iran. Tehran has denied involvement and the Houthis have claimed accountability for the assault, though the drones concerned look like Iranian-made.
“These are prudent army planning measures that permit for non permanent or conditional entry to services within the occasion of an emergency and will not be provocative in any manner, nor are they an extension of the U.S. footprint within the area, on the whole, or in the US.” Saudi Arabia, “City wrote.
US Marine Normal Frank McKenzie, head of the US Central Command, visited Yanbu on Monday. Protection One and the Wall Avenue Journal, who traveled with McKenzie to Yanbu, first reported on the US planning. Saudi officers didn’t reply to a request for touch upon Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia has already paid for enhancements on the websites and is contemplating extra, says City. Tabuk is residence to King Faisal Air Base, whereas Taif is residence to King Fahd Air Base.
The Gulf Arab states are residence to a variety of US army bases, the legacy of the 1991 Gulf Warfare that noticed US allied forces expel Iraq from Kuwait and the following invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. America withdrew its forces from Saudi Arabia after the assaults on 11 September. Osama bin Laden had cited their deployment of their assaults on the US
The US Central Command already has its headquarters in Qatar. The US Navy fifth Fleet operates from the island kingdom of Bahrain off the coast of Saudi Arabia. Kuwait hosts the US army’s central headquarters, whereas the United Arab Emirates hosts US pilots and sailors.
These places additionally don’t embody the US troops’ presence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Former President Donald Trump has additionally deployed the primary troops to Saudi Arabia since September 11 on account of considerations over Iran. About 2,500 US troops are actually manning fighter jets and Patriot missile batteries at Prince Sultan Air Base southeast of Riyadh.
The addition of those Saudi websites seems to be a part of what McKenzie beforehand described to the U.S. Congress because the “Western Sustainability Community,” a brand new logistics system designed to keep away from marine shock factors, stated Becca Wasser, a Washington-based Heart fellow for a brand new U.S. safety.
These websites would doubtless not have completely stationed troops and will permit the US to withdraw forces at different bases via that flexibility, she stated.
“If we attempt to have a versatile method the place we aren’t tied to everlasting bases … you’ll need to again it up with a logistics community that may guarantee which you can stream into folks and weapons as wanted,” stated Wasser.
Such contingency plans exist already within the Center East, such because the agreements that give US forces the proper to make use of bases in Oman below sure circumstances. However the west coast of Saudi Arabia additionally distances itself farther from Iran, which has invested closely in ballistic missiles, as sanctions have locked it out of worldwide arms gross sales.
The Persian Gulf “could be questionable waters in all eventualities of armed battle with Iran, so take a look at the locations the place you’ll transfer your forces as they enter the theater from being in a disputed space,” McKenzie was quoted as saying to reporters. and Yanbu. .
For Iran, further bases are prone to elevate suspicions about its theocratic authorities. Tensions between Iran and the US are nonetheless excessive after Trump unilaterally withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear cope with the world powers in 2018, resulting in an escalating sequence of confrontations.
Iran’s mission to the UN didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
It’s nonetheless unclear how Biden’s relationship with Saudi Arabia shall be throughout his presidency. Through the marketing campaign, Biden referred to the dominion as a “pariah” over the killing of Khashoggi.
Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia and different Arab Gulf states are nonetheless high US arms purchasers and depend on the US to make sure the free stream of oil and items via the Strait of Hormuz, the slender mouth of the Persian Gulf.
Riyadh additionally got here below a mysterious airstrike on Saturday that the US State Division below Biden condemned as “an try to focus on civilians.” It’s nonetheless unclear if it was a missile or a drone that was used within the assault.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who’ve beforehand focused Riyadh, denied involvement, though Gulf Arab nations blamed the assault on the rebels. A beforehand unknown group referred to as the “True Promise Brigade” stated it carried out the “drone of terror” assault with out offering proof to help its declare.
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