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US to step up ground forces in Saudi given the rising threat from Iran

Washington: As tensions escalate due to the attacks on the oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, the United States is planning to deploy an additional 500 troops in Saudi Arabia. A leading news channel from the United States informed that President Trump would be making the concerned announcement, dismissing the opposition from the US Congress. Only a few days ago, President Trump had announced that 1,000 soldiers were being sent to the Middle East.

Currently, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) oil tanker has gone missing in the Persian Gulf. The UAE suspects the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) may have hijacked the oil tanker. The Iranian Foreign Ministry had dismissed the UAE allegation. However, the Revolutionary Guards created a sensation on Thursday, with an announcement stating that it had taken action against a foreign oil tanker. The oil tanker with a capacity of 20 million barrels, along with 12 crew members have been detained, said Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

The details on the ownership and the country, to which the tanker belonged, have not been released by Iran. Iran appears to have realised the threat, of not allowing any other country’s oil to pass through the Strait of Hormuz if their oil exports were blocked. A US news channel thus reported that the US President would announce an additional deployment in Saudi for the security of the ships passing through the Persian Gulf given the heightened tensions. The news channel published the report, quoting two officials from the US military.

The 500 US troops would be deployed on the Prince Sultan Air Base, located in eastern Saudi. The stepped-up US deployment is claimed to be a warning for Iran. A small unit of US ground forces has already been stationed on the airbase. Furthermore, the US has set up the Patriot missile defence system at the airbase to protect its allies from the Iranian missiles.

At the same time, the US military is also busy in improving the runway at the airbase, indicating that it may soon be used for fighter jets. Neither President Trump nor Saudi has reacted over the matter. Nonetheless, the US Congress, which has already opposed the arms cooperation with Saudi, is expected to object to the additional deployment being sent to Riyadh, says the US media. Regardless of the opposition, President Trump is believed likely to go ahead with the decision. Earlier, President Trump had approved the supply of advanced weapons to Saudi, despite the US Congress disapproval.

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