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The U.S. have announced that an extra 1,800 troops will be deployed to Saudi Arabia, making the total amount of personnel sent to the country this month approximately 3,000. In a statement released on Friday by the Pentagon, it was announced that in addition to the deployment of soldiers, technology, including two fighters squadrons and a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD), would also be sent to the Kingdom. The fresh deployment of troops means that since May, the U.S. have deployed an extra 14,000 personnel to the Kingdom, numbers which, according to the Pentagons statement, allows the U.S. to “retain a robust military capability in the region” and is aimed at further addressing perceived Iranian aggression.
The decision bucks the trend of recent U.S. Middle Eastern foreign policy, coming just days after President Trump decided to withdraw U.S. troops from Northern Syria, saying on Twitter that the U.S. government “were slowly and carefully bringing our great soldiers & military home.” Although it was pointed out in the statement by the Pentagon, that the United States is not currently in conflict with the Iranian regime, it is an approach which allows the Trump administration to be opened up to accusations of hypocrisy. The fact that the decision was made therefore, gives an indication of just how serious the White House views the threat posed by Iran on American interests in the region.
The decision to increase the number of troops certainly comes during a time of increasing hostilities between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Just last month, a Saudi oil field was targeted by drones, an attack which the United States and Saudi Arabia have repeatedly blamed on the Iranian government. The authorities in Tehran have denied all involvement.
Meanwhile, on Friday the Iranian foreign ministry said that one of its oil tankers had been targeted off the Saudi Coast by “two likely missiles,” according to the BBC. The claim could not be immediately verified, and Iran has yet to officially blame the Saudi government or any other party. A spokesman for the Iranian Government, Ali Rabei, stated that the government would be “carefully examining what has happened and be probing facts.” He went on to vow retribution to whoever was responsible, a threat which reinforces the fragility of the situation in both the region and the Persian Gulf. The situation is eerily similar to the events which occurred in May of this year, when a number of Saudi owned tankers were hit by explosives in the Port of Fujairah, an attack which the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, as well as leading EU countries, pinned on the actions of the Iranian revolutionary guard.