US Deploys Troops to Saudi Arabia for First Time Since 2003

(TELESUR) – The United States Defense Department confirmed that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman approved hosting troops for the first time since 2003 amid rising tensions with Iran, the state news agency (SPA) reported Friday.

U.S. officials have justified the move as a means to “provide an additional deterrent” in the face of “emergent, credible threats.” While the Saudi Ministry of Defense said it aims “to increase joint cooperation in defense of regional security and stability and to preserve its peace.”

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the deployment would include about 500 troops and is part of an announcement made in June by then-acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan about sending 1,000 more armed forces to the Middle East for what he said were “defensive purposes.”

As that measure was announced, Iran’s diplomatic mission to the United Nations accused the U.S. and its regional allies of “warmongering,” while calling on “the international community to live up to its responsibilities in preventing the reckless and dangerous policies and practices of the U.S. and its regional allies in heightening the tensions in the region.”

As tensions between both nations escalate, on Friday, Iran seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz but denied Washington’s assertion that the U.S. Navy had downed an Iranian drone nearby earlier that week.

The U.S. has already increased their threat in the region by deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, a bomber task force of B-52s, an increased amount of soldiers, and a Patriot missile defense battery in a bid to intimidate Iran. While the U.K. navy has seized an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar and has upped their presence in the Gulf of Oman.

On June, the Persian nation downed a U.S. reconnaissance RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned drone in the southern province of Hormozgan, as it violated the country’s airspace.

The tit-for-tat dispute can be traced back to President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal last year, and subsequently reimposed tough sanctions on Iran’s oil industry to strangle the country’s economy.

Measures got worse, on April 22, as Trump decided to eliminate all waivers issued to eight economies allowing them to buy Iranian oil, basically imposing third-party sanctions.

As a response, Senior Iranian officials warned Tehran would boost its uranium enrichment, beyond the permitted 3.67 percent, every 60 days unless European powers protect them from U.S. sanctions.