US envoy in charge of the Iranian file, Brian Hook, said that Washington's decision to withdraw Patriot missile batteries and American soldiers from Saudi Arabia does not mean that Iran no longer poses a threat to American interests, and that his country wants to enhance Riyadh's capabilities so that it shares the burdens of confronting Tehran.
"This decision does not mean that Iran is no longer a threat," Hook said in an interview with the American "CNBC." The percentage of our forces ’presence increases and decreases according to circumstances, but our tasks are constant and have not changed at all.
"We stand with our partners and allies in the region, and we are doing everything we can to protect American interests. President Trump has regained a credible military deterrence in self-defense," he added.
The US envoy considered that what US President Donald Trump is doing is strengthening Saudi capabilities in order to be in a better position to share the burdens of confronting what he described as Iranian aggression.
He said, "Saudi Arabia enjoys great support from countries around the world, including the United States, France, and other countries that did what they could after Iran's attack on Saudi Arabia, which targeted the world's largest oil refining facility." The attack took place on September 14, 2019, and Iran denies US accusations of responsibility for it.
Hook noted that Washington has concluded a number of arms deals with Saudi Arabia, "and we will continue to support its security."
Trump and King's conversation
The White House said Friday evening in a statement that President Trump and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz spoke on the phone "and reaffirmed the strength of the US-Saudi defense partnership."
The statement did not address the fate of the Patriot missiles in Saudi Arabia, and the White House declined to provide details.
And American press reports said on Thursday that the United States was in the process of withdrawing two Patriot missile batteries from Saudi Arabia they had sent in the wake of the attack on Saudi oil facilities last year, in addition to American combat aircraft and military personnel.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed the authenticity of these reports, but said that this did not indicate a decline in US support for Saudi Arabia, nor was it an attempt to pressure Riyadh on oil issues.
He said in a radio interview that "Patriot missile batteries have been there for a while, and that the forces had to be returned," and said that this does not mean that Washington no longer sees a threat from Iran.
These developments came within a delicate stage in the relations between Washington and Riyadh, where the atmosphere was strained by the Saudi-Russian war in the global oil markets, which was one of the reasons for the price collapse and severely damaged American oil companies.
Reuters published a special report in which it said that President Trump threatened in the midst of the recent oil war to cut US military support to Saudi Arabia if it did not stop dumping markets, in a call he made with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on April 2.