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Middle East gain: will Trump continue to increase US troops in Saudi Arabia


US President Donald Trump has denied media reports about the upcoming transfer to Saudi Arabia of more than 10 thousand US troops, calling these messages "fake." According to experts, such a sharp reaction of the president to publications is due to the fact that sending a large contingent to the Middle East can cause a negative reaction from American society. At the same time, analysts recalled that the White House has long been discussing the need to strengthen the military group in the Middle East region. Washington needs this to put pressure on Iran, political scientists say.

US President Donald Trump said that he does not plan to send a military contingent of 12,000 troops to Saudi Arabia. He wrote about this on Twitter.

“Today's story that we are sending 12,000 troops to Saudi Arabia is fake or, more precisely, fake news,” Trump emphasized.

The story today that we are sending 12,000 troops to Saudi Arabia is false or, to put it more accurately, Fake News!

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2019

Thus, the politician reacted to a number of publications that appeared on the eve of the American media, which said that the Trump administration is considering the possibility of transferring additional forces to the Middle East.

  • Donald Trump
  • Reuters
  • © Yuri Gripas

Such information, citing sources in government circles, was shared on December 4 by The Wall Street Journal. According to the publication, it was about 14 thousand military personnel, as well as warships and other equipment. The buildup of forces in the region is necessary to counter Iran, the publication specified. They also said, citing sources, that a final decision should be made in December.

They hastened to refute this message at the Pentagon. As the head of the press service of the defense department, Alyssa Farah, wrote on Twitter, the information of The Wall Street Journal about the possible sending to the Middle East of 14 thousand American troops is not true.

This reporting by the @WSJ is wrong. The US is not sending 14,000 troops to the Middle East to confront Iran.

- Alyssa Farah (@PentagonPresSec) December 5, 2019

Painful topic

CNN also published material in which it reported with reference to officials in the US Department of Defense about the possible buildup of the US contingent in the Middle East. According to CNN, the Pentagon is currently discussing such an opportunity.

The most realistic option is to send from 4 to 7 thousand military men to the region, journalists say. The need for such a step is explained by the threat that Iranian missiles allegedly pose for Saudi Arabia and the US military in Iraq. However, the final decision to build up forces in the Middle East by the American administration has not yet been made, CNN said. Now the Pentagon is trying to determine how much and for how long troops should be sent there.

Fox News also reported on the possible transfer of the US military to the Middle East to counter the IRI, also citing sources in the US Department of Defense.

  • Pentagon
  • Reuters
  • © Jason Reed

According to him, the Pentagon is considering a plan to deploy additional troops in the region of up to 7,000 troops to combat the growing, according to the department, threat from Iran.

Fox News cited the words of the Pentagon deputy politician John Rood, who, while testifying before the US Senate Armed Forces Committee, affirmatively answered the question of whether the agency is considering strengthening the US military group in the Middle East. At the same time, the official did not specify which country he was talking about, noting that the Pentagon is constantly calculating such opportunities not only in relation to the Middle East.

“In recent months, Iran has launched a number of attacks, and we are concerned about the current level of threat,” Rood added.

HSE professor Dmitry Evstafiev drew attention to the fact that in his refutation, Donald Trump wrote about 12 thousand military men. He believes that this was a random typo and the head of state had in mind precisely the WSJ message about 14 thousand.

"Although information about the possible transfer of the military to Saudi Arabia is not published for the first time, Trump reacted very sharply to the WSJ message, since it was a dangerous dump for him," the expert explained in a comment to RT.

Yevstafyev emphasized that sending such a number of troops to Saudi Arabia will require the approval of the Congress, which will not be easy to convince of the need for such a step.

“The fact is that Saudi Arabia, although it is an ally of the United States, does not have such close relations with them as, for example, NATO members. At the same time, Riyadh is not now subjected to aggression. Sending such a contingent there would definitely be going beyond the presidential powers and the basis for impeachment, ”the expert added.

A similar point of view is shared by professor at Moscow State University, an expert on the Middle East, Alexander Vavilov. In his opinion, such information may cause a negative reaction of American voters.

“Now is not the right time for the Trump administration to send US troops to the Middle East. This is a very unpleasant topic, painful for American society. It is unlikely that the Americans will be happy with the news about the transfer of a large contingent to the region, with which the States have a rather sad experience, ”the expert said in an interview with RT.

"A serious trump card"

In 2003, the States withdrew from Saudi Arabia almost all of their military contingent deployed in the kingdom during the years of the Gulf War.

However, as tensions escalated between Iran on the one hand and the United States and Saudi Arabia on the other, unconfirmed reports began to appear in the American press about the White House’s plans to redeploy a significant contingent in the Middle East. The numbers were called different.

In July 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense agreed on the deployment of a group of military personnel to Saudi Arabia. This was stated in the order approved by the acting Pentagon chiefs by Richard Spencer. As the Pentagon explained then, this step will protect the interests of both the United States and Saudi Arabia.

The escalation of tension peaked after an attack by drones on Saudi fuel enterprises in September 2019. As a result of the attacks, oil production in the kingdom fell almost twice. It was possible to restore the previous level only by the end of the month.

  • Attacks on the Saudi oil refinery in September 2019
  • Reuters

The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Hussite Yemeni rebels with whom Riyadh has been waging war for several years. However, Saudi and US authorities have blamed Tehran for the attack, despite the lack of evidence.

At the end of September, it also became known that the States were additionally deploying a Patriot SAM battery in Saudi Arabia. This was announced by Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.

“This deployment will strengthen the kingdom’s air defense and missile defense and its critical military and civilian infrastructure,” he said, adding that the US side plans to further strengthen its ally’s defense with two more air defense systems and one THAAD missile defense system.

In late November, the head of the White House, Donald Trump, confirmed the intention of the American administration to increase the military contingent in Saudi Arabia.

“The first part of these troops has already arrived in Saudi Arabia, the remaining forces will be deployed in the next few weeks. Together with an additional contingent, the total number of US troops in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be approximately 3 thousand people, ”the US president said in a statement.

Trump said that support for the ally will be provided not only by deploying missile and radar systems, but also by transferring two fighter squadrons and an air expeditionary wing to the region.

  • SAM Patriot
  • Reuters
  • © US Air Force / Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady

According to Alexander Vavilov, the States are gathering forces in Saudi Arabia, since the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz are of great interest to Washington, and the situation in the region remains tense.

“Therefore, the Americans want to wave a military club to Iran, which is consistent with their policy of pressure on Tehran. However, there is no real danger of unleashing a heated conflict, since any military operation will cost the States too much. On the eve of the election, Trump is completely unprofitable to start another war in the Middle East, ”the expert said.

A slightly different point of view is shared by Dmitry Evstafiev. He believes that the possible transfer of the American military contingent to the region could lead to serious escalation.

“This will exacerbate the situation. The Iranians will be forced to respond, because this is a direct military threat. For its part, Washington is strengthening its position in the region because the Saudi regime has shown its complete military incapacity. There are serious risks at the borders and within the kingdom. And for the US, a military group in Saudi Arabia is a serious trump card in negotiations with Iran, ”the expert summed up.

Source: russiart

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