US Pulling Military Forces, Capabilities Out of Saudi Arabia
By Staff, Agencies
The White House ordered some US military forces and equipment out of Saudi Arabia in a move that may underscore Joe Biden administration's desire to focus its international resources away from the Middle East, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The financial daily noted on Thursday that the US has “removed at least three Patriot anti-missile batteries from the Gulf region, including one from Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, that had been put in place in recent years to help protect American forces.”
“Some capabilities, including an aircraft carrier and surveillance systems, are being diverted from the Middle East to answer military needs elsewhere around the globe,” the paper continued, adding that “other reductions are under consideration.”
In February, the Pentagon released a statement reaffirming its "strategic ‘defense’ partnership" with Riyadh in the face of increased attacks by Yemeni rebels.
But since US President Joe Biden's inauguration, tensions have flared between Washington and Riyadh, specifically over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In early March, Biden ordered the declassification of an intelligence report that found that Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman [MBS] ordered the 2018 killing of Khashoggi, a US-based contributor to The Washington Post who was lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The report found that seven of the 15 members of the hit squad that flew to Istanbul came from the Rapid Intelligence Force, which it said "exists to defend the crown prince" and "answers only to him."
The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on the force, meaning any US transactions with it will be a crime, but the administration stopped short of personally targeting the crown prince.
While the administration failed to impose a punishment on MBS for the gruesome killing, citing Saudi Arabia's invaluable contribution to regional security interests, US lawmakers remain outraged over the prince's actions, including many Democrats.