WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is sending more defense troops to the region to increase pressure on Iran, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker said on Monday, adding Washington was building defense capabilities in the region to support its allies and help them defend themselves.

"We are sending defense forces to Saudi Arabia and there are many of them already in the region," he said. "This is a response to the recent escalation," he said.

"We are building defensive capabilities to help our allies and partners in the region to defend themselves," the official said.

For his part, Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs Clark Cooper said that the bombing of facilities belonging to Saudi Aramco on September 14 prompted many countries to change their positions on joining the international coalition to secure navigation in the Gulf waters, which Washington seeks to form.

Change in priorities
Former US ambassador to Riyadh Shaz Freeman said the geopolitical priorities of the United States in the Gulf region have changed dramatically compared to the years after the Iranian revolution.

Freeman said in a speech at the second Gulf Forum in Washington, that his country's priority now is to protect Israel from the Iranian threat.

"US geopolitical priorities are clearly changing. The end of the revolution is not clear, but it is clear that the stability of the Gulf is no longer the focus of American policy," he said.

He said there were 45,000 US troops and a crowd of Defense Department contractors deployed in the Gulf region, "but their stated mission is no longer to secure oil security or to protect friendly Arab countries, but their presence is increasingly justified as a punitive threat to Iran's nuclear program, which may exist." Or does not exist, and to defend Israel against Iran. "

The former US ambassador to Riyadh also explained that Arab and Gulf countries are now working to reduce their dependence on the United States.

"It is not surprising that the Gulf states are intensifying their efforts to reduce reliance on US diplomacy and military power to defend them. They are increasing their arms purchases, diversifying their international economic relations and arms markets, building their military industries and exploring rapprochement with Iran, and have largely stopped," he said. "To acquiesce to the United States in formulating its policies and managing its relations with other great powers such as China, India and Russia."