Thu, 25 Feb 2021

Saudis expanding U.S. military access to airfields, port

PanArmenian.Net
26 Jan 2021, 21:07 GMT+10

PanARMENIAN.Net - The U.S. military is expanding its ability to operate from Saudi Arabia in the event of a war with Iran, striking a preliminary arrangement with Riyadh to use various air bases and seaports in the country's western regions, Defense One reports.

The U.S. military has long kept a host of military assets and thousands of troops in Gulf kingdoms on the eastern flank of Saudi Arabia, including at permanent bases in Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE, and elsewhere. But Iran's ballistic missiles have improved, those bases have become increasingly vulnerable, analysts say.

In a conflict with Iran, the United States would be able to transport troops in and out of the region from the west, posture fighters and other aircraft further from Iran's missile launchers, and "lily-pad" eastward into the fight, Gen. Frank McKenzie told reporters traveling with him to the region to inspect three of the new locations.

"The Arabian Gulf would be contested waters under any scenario of armed conflict with Iran, so you look at the places where you would move your forces as they enter the theater from being in a contested area," McKenzie said. "Certainly the Red Sea, the western [part] of the Arabian peninsula presents those opportunities."

This expansion initiative has been underway for at least a year. Its revelation comes as the new Biden administration has vowed to take a more skeptical eye towards the relationship with Saudi Arabia - and to attempt negotiations with Iran for an updated version of the Iran nuclear deal that then-President Trump abandoned in 2018. But it hints at the seriousness with which military leaders at U.S. Central Command, which governs all American troops in the Middle East, takes the possibility of a war with Tehran. And it signals that even as the Biden administration has sought to take a tougher line on Riyadh, U.S.-Saudi ties are deepening at the military level.

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