WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States (US) has announced that additional American troops and missile defence equipment will be deployed to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
However, US President Donald Trump has put on hold possible military strike on Iran in response to last week’s drone attacks on the Saudi oil industry.
Iran has repeatedly denied involvement and warned the US that any attack will spark an “all-out war” with immediate retaliation from Tehran.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters yesterday that the build-up of troops and equipment is a first step to beef up security and would not rule out additional moves “down the road”.
General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more details about the deployment will be determined in the coming days, but it would not involve thousands of American troops.
According to other officials, the US deployment would likely be in the hundreds and the defensive equipment heading to the Middle East would probably include Patriot missile batteries and possibly enhanced radars.
Before the announcement, Trump told reporters that showing restraint “shows far more strength” than launching military strikes and that he wanted to avoid an all-out war with Iran.
Instead, he laid out new sanctions on the Iranian central bank and said the easiest thing to do would be to launch military strikes.
“I think the strong person’s approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint,” Trump said during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“Much easier to do it the other way, and Iran knows that if they misbehave, they are on borrowed time.”
Dunford explained that the extra equipment and troops would give the Saudis a better chance of defending against unconventional aerial attacks.
“No single system is going to be able to defend against a threat like that,” he said, “but a layered system of defensive capabilities would mitigate the risk of swarms of drones or other attacks that may come from Iran”, he said.
The US has not provided any hard evidence that Iran was responsible for the attacks, but Esper insisted that the drones and cruise missiles used in the attack on the Saudi oil industry were produced by Iran.