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The United States is gearing up to deploy additional boots on the ground to Saudi Arabia, as well as a missile defense system, in order to shore up security in the country after it suffered an unprecedented attack on its oil infrastructure.
The September 14 attacks, which Saudi Arabia and the United States have blamed on Iran, took 5.7 million barrels of oil production per day offline. Further violence came on Friday, when Iran, too, suffered what it says was a missile attack on an oil tanker that was near a Saudi Arabian port. Iran has not officially blamed anyone for the attack.
Washington will now send additional troops to Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon announced at a press briefing on Friday.
“Today I spoke with the Saudi Minister of Defense to discuss the status of Saudi Arabia’s defensive capabilities and our ongoing efforts to protect our partners from further Iranian aggression. Saudi Arabia is a longstanding security partner in the Middle East and has asked for additional support to supplement their own defenses and defend the international rules-based order. In response to continued threats in the region, I have ordered the deployment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of two additional fighter squadrons and supporting personnel along with additional Patriot and THAAD air and missile defense batteries, taken together with other deployments I’ve extended or authorized within the last month, this involves about 3,000 United States forces,” United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said at the press briefing, who added that more forces remain on alert.
Oil prices rose on Friday after news of the oil tanker attack, with Brent reaching $60.48 (+2.34%) per barrel by the end of the trading day.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.
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Having US troops on its territory escalates tension between the United States and Iran at a time when Saudi Arabia is starting some tentative steps to reduce tension with Iran. After all, the US/Iran conflict is not a Saudi Affair. It is simply an American/Israeli affair in which Saudi Arabia shouldn’t be dragged into as it will end up paying a heavy price for any war in the Gulf.
By building bridges of trust with Iran, Saudi Arabia could concentrate on building a powerful economy, ensuring the security of its oil infrastructure and living peacefully with its powerful neighbour without dragging the whole Gulf region into a destructive war that would leave their economies in tatters.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London