Saudi Arabia must be feeling pretty naked right now against the Houthis and Iran.
The Wall Street Journal reports that President Biden has directed the Pentagon to begin removing some of the US’s military resources out of of the Middle East, and specifically out of Saudi Arabia. The WSJ says that the US already removed three Patriot antimissile batteries out of the region, including one at the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, but the move was unreported until now. It is also reducing forces in the region.
Also diverted away from the region is the permanent aircraft carrier presence and surveillance systems. There will be a “carrier gap” in the region for at least a short period.
The Biden-Harris administration also considered removing the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) defense system, but is keeping it there for now. The THAAD provides protection against the types of ballistic missiles that Iran and its allies use.
Despite these moves, the Pentagon says it is helping the Saudis prepare to defend themselves against the rocket attacks from the Houthis.
According to the WSJ article a US official claimed, “The bottom line is that the Houthis need to know that we are standing with the Saudis and we will continue to support their right to self-defense.” Though US officials said they couldn’t explain the current escalation of Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia.
The Biden-Harris administration has been on the offensive against Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the their presidency, by blocking a weapons deal, and publishing a report to shame Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in connection to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Biden has threatened to “recalibrate” the US relationship with the Saudis, and is making good on that promise.
The Biden-Harris team also froze an arms deal with the UAE, which came after the UAE signed the Abraham Accords normalization agreement with Israel. Both the Saudis and the UAE view Iran as a direct threat and threat to the region.
The Biden-Harris administration want to return to negotiating a nuclear deal with the Iranians, who are trying to obtain nuclear weapons. The Iranians repeatedly threaten to wipe out Israel.
According to a report in Defense World last month, the Saudis have begun negotiating with the Russians for the purchase of S-400 air defense systems and Su-35 jets. The THAAD antimissile system is the competitor to the S400, and is reportedly one of the weapon system purchases that the Biden-Harris administration froze.