US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is seen in September 2019 Photo: AFP/File
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U.S. deploys troops to Saudi Arabia over Iran threat

38 Comments
By Paul HANDLEY

The Pentagon announced Friday it was bolstering U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia after Riyadh asked for reinforcements following the Sept 14 drone-and-missile attack on Saudi oil plants which Washington blames on Iran.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defense batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, for a total of about 3,000 new troops from September this year.

The move comes as tensions jumped Friday after Tehran said that suspected missiles had struck an Iranian tanker in the Red Sea off the coast of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, setting it on fire.

Tehran did not blame arch-rival Riyadh for the attack, and U.S. defense officials said they were still looking into it and had no immediate explanation.

Esper said he had spoken with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Friday to discuss adding U.S. firepower to the oil giant's defenses against Iranian attacks.

"It is clear that the Iranians are responsible for the recent attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities," he said. "Despite Iran's attempts to deny their involvement, the evidence recovered so far proves that Tehran is responsible for these attacks."

The Sept 14 attack knocked out two major processing facilities of state oil giant Aramco in Khurais and Abqaiq, roughly halving Saudi Arabia's oil production.

Washington condemned the attacks as a "act of war" but neither the Saudis nor the United States have undertaken overt retaliation.

But the incident added to tensions already soaring since early this year when Iran was accused of attaching mines to several tankers moored off Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and then attacking or seizing others near the crucial Strait of Hormuz.

Esper said that since May the United States has increased its 70,000-strong presence in the Middle East by 14,000 personnel, most of those deployed to the Gulf region in response to Iran's actions.

"The U.S. military has on alert additional army, navy, marine and air force units to quickly provide increased capability in the region if necessary," he said Friday.

He also urged U.S. allies in Europe to follow America's lead with their own defensive assets "for regional stability."

The deployments authorized Friday include two additional fighter squadrons, and supporting personnel, along with additional Patriot and THAAD missile defense batteries.

The explosion on the Iranian tanker in the Red Sea Friday remained a mystery.

The National Iranian Tanker Company said the hull of the Sabiti was hit by two separate explosions off of Jeddah, saying they were "probably caused by missile strikes".

It initially blamed Saudi Arabia but then recanted the allegation, and no one claimed responsibility.

Oil prices surged about two percent on the news, which raised fresh concerns about a possible clash between the Iranians and Saudis.

"This clearly puts fuel on the Mideast fire," SEB commodities analyst Bjarne Schieldrop told AFP.

"After the attack on Saudi a few weeks ago... it's not a matter of if we get new comparable events -- but when, and how much."

But Ayham Kamel of the Eurasia Group expressed caution, saying that ongoing efforts to deescalate tensions would not be halted.

He said that if not perpetrated by the Saudis, the attack could have been carried out by Israel seeking to disrupt Iran's oil exports, the country's key source of income, or from a terrorist group.

But he said both Tehran and Riyadh have shown interest in calming the situation.

"For now, the attack will likely not derail efforts to ease tensions in the region and it does not materially impact the possibility for an escalation between Iran and Saudi Arabia," he said.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


38 Comments

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Donny is clearly trying to distract from the ever building evidence against him from the impeachment probe and going for the patriotic bump all presidents get in times of crisis.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Donny is clearly trying to distract from the ever building evidence against him from the impeachment probe and going for the patriotic bump all presidents get in times of crisis.

A large movement of troops like this is decided months in advance.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defense batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, for a total of about 3,000 new troops from September this year.

Esper said that since May the United States has increased its 70,000-strong presence in the Middle East by 14,000 personnel

But 50 soldiers with the Kurds is too much ?

14,000 since May ! Talk about "bringing the troops home" !

Did someone check if Saudi Arabia helped with WW2 and Normandy at least?

16 ( +17 / -1 )

“Fighting between various groups that has been going on for hundreds of years. USA should never have been in Middle East. The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!”

Trump, like 3 days ago or something.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

This must be the Saudis' payback for helping us storm Normandy Beach.

He leaves the brave Kurds hanging out to dry so he can pump up the numbers for the Saudis?

I feel ill. 

This corrupt ***** must be brought down ASAP.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

A large movement of troops like this is decided months in advance.

Did you bother to read the article?

*The Pentagon announced Friday it was bolstering U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia after Riyadh asked for reinforcements following the Sept 14 drone-and-missile attack on Saudi oil plants which Washington blames on Iran.*

I know calendars can be tricky with many months not having the same number of days, but Sept. 14 wasn't even one month ago.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Here we go..

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Oil prices surged about two percent on the news

Follow the money. Which of the global oil powers (including state owned) stand to gain most from higher oil prices. If there are even more wars for oil, who besides the global oil powers, the defense industries, and of course their financiers stand to gain the most?

No more wars for big oil, big defense and big finance.

On a related topic, why is it the climate change denial movement is financed by big oil.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Did the Saudis help us in the Spanish-American War at least? (sigh)

Abandon the Kurds to go help the Saudis until they abandon the Saudis to go help Israel until they abandon Israel.....its amazing the number of people who cannot see this is the same stuff the British Empire pulled just without official colonies and new methods of profiteering through murder. Even Mark Twain way back decried American imperialism.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Tehran did not blame arch-rival Riyadh for the attack, and U.S. defense officials said they were still looking into it and had no immediate explanation.

Yeah sure....Iranian tanker get hit by explosions off Saudi coast - US has no explanation,

Saudi tanker gets hit by explosions - US has Pompeo within an hour declaring Iran is undoubtedly responsible.

Duble standards much?

But 50 soldiers with the Kurds is too much ?

14,000 since May ! Talk about "bringing the troops home" !

Did someone check if Saudi Arabia helped with WW2 and Normandy at least?

Spot on.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This must be the Saudis' payback for helping us storm Normandy Beach.

> He leaves the brave Kurds hanging out to dry so he can pump up the numbers for the Saudis?

Saudis spent $52bn in 2018 for defense equipment. Much of that goes to US companies like Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, Northrop.

Kurds want hand-me-down weapons and don't have any money to spend.

As a salesman, which customer should the US support? That is how Trump thinks.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The surest bet in town, even guaranteed to work at a crooked Trump Casino and Resort....

If there is a Republican administration, there will be US war(s) in the Middle East...

1 00% winner - except for our military personnel and the civilians involved on both sides...

But as one Trumper here said, they're just "expendable"...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I don't agree with this move. Let the Saudis deal with this on their own.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

It is clear that the Iranians are responsible for the recent attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities," he said. "Despite Iran's attempts to deny their involvement, the evidence recovered so far proves that Tehran is responsible for these attacks."

We are still waiting for the evidence.

The explosion on the Iranian tanker in the Red Sea Friday remained a mystery.

Lol,

It is unclear and a mystery, surprised the Iranians have not accused of exploding their own ship since it is a mystery.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Somethings not right Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest importers of arms and yet needs American troops to save it

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Saudis gave millions of dollars to Mr. Corruption, and now U.S. troops are going to Saudi Arabia.

Turkey gave millions of dollars to Mr. Corruption, and U.S. troops were recently ordered to abandon our ally, the Kurds.

I see a trend.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The US is there to protect the oil not anything else,otherwise, they would have been protecting the Yemenis from Saudi aggression...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Saudi Arabians were responsible for 9/11; the Saudi government teaches their children that we should be killed, yet Trump sends US troops there.

The Kurds helped fight against Saudi-sponsored IS terrorists, so Trump abandons them to be killed by the Turks (who also supported IS).

It's pretty clear that Trump is on the side of countries that support IS. It's a disgrace.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Saudi Arabians were responsible for 9/11; the Saudi government teaches their children that we should be killed, yet Trump sends US troops there.

Yes and yes.

The Kurds helped fight against Saudi-sponsored IS terrorists, so Trump abandons them to be killed by the Turks (who also supported IS).

Yes, but the majority of Americans don’t want to be there anymore, they want our troops out of these wars and Trump not only has huge support for it, he campaigned on it the Obama campaigned and ended the war in Iraq as well..

It's pretty clear that Trump is on the side of countries that support IS. It's a disgrace.

No, he just understands that we need the Saudis more than we need the Kurds. I personally don’t like it, but I get why he’s doing it.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Saudi is a bigger supporter of terrorism than Iran which has been proven many times over.

The congress, his own generals all disagree with pulling troops out of Syria. Yesterday the Turks shelled an American position.

Even America's closest ME ally Israel does not agree.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Saudi is a bigger supporter of terrorism than Iran which has been proven many times over.

Yeah...ok, you can believe that, however, we don’t have any diplomatic ties with the Saudis, not to mention, they’re antagonistic to our closest ally, Israel.

The congress, his own generals all disagree with pulling troops out of Syria. Yesterday the Turks shelled an American position.

Ok, but it doesn’t matter, he’s the President and the majority of Americans that want out could care less what the generals think or would like to see.

Even America's closest ME ally Israel does not agree.

As much as I love Israel, their opinions don’t matter on this particular issue as well.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Sad to see that Trump is caving to the neolib warmongers here. Don´t hold your breath for CNN complaining about this... when orange man makes war, they are happy.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Yeah...ok, you can believe that, however, we don’t have any diplomatic ties with the Saudis, not to mention, they’re antagonistic to our closest ally, Israel.

Saudi support of terrorism is well documented. What are you talking about America does not have any diplomatic ties with Saudi? Have you been drinking. Of course America and Saudi have diplomatic relationships. How are the Saudi antagonistic to Israel when they support Israeli and allow them to use their air space when attacking Iran.

Fella once again you seem to have your facts mixed up like a happy hour cocktail.

As much as I love Israel, their opinions don’t matter on this particular issue as well.

Actually they do matter and you should always listen to your allies and not just dismiss them with an offhand wave.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Don´t hold your breath for CNN complaining about this... when orange man makes war, they are happy.

Ahh, apparently we're talking about the boogeyman the right call CNN, as the actual CNN has never fit the description above.

Unlike Fox "News", their propaganda channel that was show in the Mueller report to alter their news according to white house demands.

And you'd have us believe the problem is on our side. Silly pub, moronity is for the right!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Saudi support of terrorism is well documented. 

So is Iranian terrorism.

What are you talking about America does not have any diplomatic ties with Saudi?

I meant with the Iranians

are the Saudi antagonistic to Israel when they support Israeli and allow them to use their air space when attacking Iran.

It’s good thing.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Fella once again you seem to have your facts mixed up 

No, I don’t, but most liberals seem to have.

Actually they do matter and you should always listen to your allies and not just dismiss them with an offhand wave.

No, they don’t matter when it comes to our troops and their families wanting them out of these wars.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Moving troops from Syria to Saudi Arabia, not getting out of these wars

5 ( +5 / -0 )

So is Iranian terrorism.

I didn't say Iran does not support terrorism. I said America's alley Saudi is a bigger supporter of terrorism than Iran which comes with well documented proof.

The American troops in Syria were fighting the ISS, with great help from the Kurds who did the heavy fighting and suffered the greatest losses.

The job isn't done. Yesterday because of Turkish shelling ISS fighters managed to break out of a Kurd prison. They have something like 15,000 ISS fighter prisoners. If they are released, including foreign fighters they will return to attacking again. Even Israel sees the real situation.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I didn't say Iran does not support terrorism. I said America's alley Saudi is a bigger supporter of terrorism than Iran which comes with well documented proof.

As is with Iran.

The American troops in Syria were fighting the ISS, with great help from the Kurds who did the heavy fighting and suffered the greatest losses.

Yes, we know that already.

The job isn't done. Yesterday because of Turkish shelling ISS fighters managed to break out of a Kurd prison. They have something like 15,000 ISS fighter prisoners. If they are released, including foreign fighters they will return to attacking again. Even Israel sees the real situation.

Yes, but it doesn’t matter, Trump made a promise and unlike most politicians, he kept it and wants out and if everyone else in Washington thinks it’s wrong, well, they’re allowed to think whatever they want.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

The American troops in Syria were fighting the ISS, with great help from the Kurds who did the heavy fighting and suffered the greatest losses.

Yes, we know that already.

So why do you support abandoning them, and allowing ISIS to re-group and threaten us?

The job isn't done. Yesterday because of Turkish shelling ISS fighters managed to break out of a Kurd prison. They have something like 15,000 ISS fighter prisoners. If they are released, including foreign fighters they will return to attacking again. Even Israel sees the real situation.

Yes, but it doesn’t matter, Trump made a promise and unlike most politicians, he kept it and wants out and if everyone else in Washington thinks it’s wrong, well, they’re allowed to think whatever they want.

It doesn't matter that Trump is going to allow ISIS to re-group, enlarge, and again threaten us? That's losing...

And all our military has done and sacrificed, Trump is just going to let go? Well, as you said, they are expendable...

And as for promises, has Mexico paid for the wall?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So why do you support abandoning them, and allowing ISIS to re-group and threaten us?

I never said I supported the move.

It doesn't matter that Trump is going to allow ISIS to re-group, enlarge, and again threaten us? That's losing...

One could make that argument, but also one can make another argument that we’ve been there long enough and it’s long overdo we we leave.

And all our military has done and sacrificed, Trump is just going to let go? Well, as you said, they are expendable...

Yes.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

The numbers and makeup of what the US is sending tell a different story from what the professional (and amateur) liars are putting forth.

If the US actually believed its theory of the drones having been launched from Iran, there wouldn't be any air defence in the mix, because the drones would have had to fly through dozens of the most advanced American air defence systems (The ones that protect American bases) before they reached the air defences around the refinery.

And the US has more than enough American soldiers stationed in Saudi Arabia who's deaths in an Iranian (or an 'Iranian') attack would 'justify' American attacks on Iran.

However, If you allow that the troops are going to substitute for the Saud troops around various strategically important facilities, and the additional air defences are going to be used to protect those Saud regime forces from the things that Saudi dissidents and prodemocracy groups could cobble together to protect themselves from attacks by those regime forces, the number and makeup of the American deployment line up with what would be needed to allow the Saud family to engage in a brutal, bloody campaign of terror against its subject population in an effort to stomp flat all opposition to its corrupt rule.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So why do you support abandoning them, and allowing ISIS to re-group and threaten us?

I never said I supported the move.

So you think Trump's decision was wrong? Good.

It doesn't matter that Trump is going to allow ISIS to re-group, enlarge, and again threaten us? That's losing...

One could make that argument, but also one can make another argument that we’ve been there long enough and it’s long overdo we we leave.

That's a reason "why" to leave - the result of leaving, irrespective of the why, is that ISIS regains strength and again becomes a threat to us and Europe - i.e., we lose. For this reason, Trump is solely to blame when the next ISIS attack occurs.

And all our military has done and sacrificed, Trump is just going to let go? Well, as you said, they are expendable...

Yes.

Thanks, it's on the record again. Trumpers care absolutely nothing for our military heroes.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The terrorists the Saud regime (and its Axis partners) support are religious and/or ethnic supremacists, and warlords, who want to force their way into power over populations that do not want them.

The 'terrorists' that the Iranian government is supporting are fighting to either free population of the rule of such people, or to protect such populations from those sorts of attacks.

Which is why some people try and make the argument about the NUMBERS, because they know that if you think about the NATURE of the terrorists, you will not side with the Sauds etc, and just might not buy any of the lies they tell about Iran.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

So you think Trump's decision was wrong?

I never said that.

That's a reason "why" to leave - the result of leaving, irrespective of the why, is that ISIS regains strength and again becomes a threat to us and Europe - i.e., we lose. For this reason, Trump is solely to blame when the next ISIS attack occurs.

Maybe....

Thanks, it's on the record again. Trumpers care absolutely nothing for our military heroes

They do, that’s why they overwhelmingly voted for this President.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

So you think Trump's decision was wrong?

I never said that.

Really? So, is Trump's decision to abandon the Kurds, releasing over 10K ISIS members to re-group and re-threaten US and Europe right or wrong?

That's a reason "why" to leave - the result of leaving, irrespective of the why, is that ISIS regains strength and again becomes a threat to us and Europe - i.e., we lose. For this reason, Trump is solely to blame when the next ISIS attack occurs.

Maybe....

No maybe about it...as Trump said, it happened on his watch....

Thanks, it's on the record again. Trumpers care absolutely nothing for our military heroes

They do, that’s why they overwhelmingly voted for this President.

BS - in your own words you called them expendable. That's a disgusting insult to their service to our country, and par for the course for Trump and his supporters...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

is Trump's decision to abandon the Kurds...

The U.S. has helped them for years. Tell the Chinese to take over. They won't because they're too smart to do that.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

is Trump's decision to abandon the Kurds...

The U.S. has helped them for years. Tell the Chinese to take over. They won't because they're too smart to do that.

Don't remember any ISIS attacks in China - maybe you do? Also, may I suggest you study the Uighers.

Trump abandons the Kurds, which will result in a re-energized ISIS that will launch attacks against the US and Europe.

Trump the wimp....hopefully he'll be impeached before the next ISIS attack.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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