The U.S. is removing four Patriot missile batteries from Saudi Arabia along with dozens of military personnel sent following a series of attacks on the Saudi oil facilities last year, according to several U.S. officials. The attacks were part of hostilities that took place over several months.
Two U.S. jet fighter squadrons also have left the region, and U.S. officials also will consider a reduction soon in the U.S. Navy presence in the Persian Gulf, the officials said. The redeployment of the Patriot systems, which now is under way, hasn’t been previously disclosed.
The Pentagon’s removal of the Patriot antimissile batteries from Saudi Arabia, as well as the other reductions, are based on assessments by some officials that Tehran no longer poses an immediate threat to American strategic interests.
Saudi officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Iran has denied taking part in the attack on Saudi oil facilities.
Some U.S. officials have remained concerned that a reduction in the American military presence in the Middle East could give rise to new challenges from Iran, especially while the Trump administration’s economic pressure campaign against Tehran remains in force, the U.S. officials added.
The underlying pressure on Iran and the propensity to act out militarily as their only outlet of trying to relieve that pressure still exists with the maximum pressure campaign,” one official said. “As long as the maximum pressure campaign continues, there’s a feeling that we need a strong deterrent to prevent Iran from acting out in the region.”