According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon is in talks with Riyadh to expand the former’s global military footprint by turning three Saudi facilities into “dual use” bases.
Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, told the WSJ that the Pentagon was looking for “options” in case of a conflict with Iran, “and options are always a good thing for a commander to have.”
While the US operated out of several Saudi bases in the 1980s and 1990s, they were pulled out of the country in 2003 after Saudi-born terrorist leader Osama bin Laden cited their presence close to the holy Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina as part of the reason al-Qaeda targeted the US. Some 2,500 US troops returned to Prince Sultan Air Base last February, however, reported to be on a ground-based and airborne air defense mission.
McKenzie said the US has already tested loading and unloading cargo at Yanbu, a major petroleum exporting facility and the western terminus of an East-West crude oil pipeline running from Abqaiq.
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Both the Abqaiq facility and the pipeline have been targets of the armed Houthi opposition faction in Yemen, against whom a Saudi-led coalition has been waging war since 2015. Urban said CENTCOM had been…