US Deploys Troops to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)

The United States is deploying military forces to the Middle East after Saturday’s drone attacks on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia that the administration of President Donald Trump has blamed on Iran.

“The president has approved the deployment of U.S. forces which will be defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said at a news conference Friday.

Answering reporters’ questions about the deployment, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the troop deployment as “modest” and “not thousands.”

Dunford said he planned to confer with U.S. Central Command and Saudi officials to work out details of the deployment, which he said would be announced next week.

Esper said troops would be primarily focused on air and missile defenses.

The United States will also accelerate shipment of military hardware to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, he said.

The defense secretary said the troop deployment to those nations is happening as Iran has engaged in a “significant escalation of violence” in the region.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that while Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the Saudi oil-site attack, the “fingerprints” of Tehran’s ayatollah were evident in the drone strikes.

Esper on Friday took that line of thinking further, saying, “The weapons used in the Iranian attack were Iranian produced and were not launched from Yemen as was initially claimed.”

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Source: NBC News