When the Houthis claimed responsibility for suicide drone attacks on two Saudi Aramco oil facilities in September 2019 that paralyzed the country’s economy for several days, the US quickly rushed to blame Iran, while they have also accused Tehran of exacerbating the war in Yemen by supporting the Houthis’ fight against Riyadh.
The head of US Central Command (CENTCOM) told reporters on Sunday that Riyadh is still asking for US military assistance in deterring Iran. Washington backed out of supporting the Saudi-led war in Yemen earlier this year, but the Biden administration has committed to providing for Saudi Arabia’s defense, including increasing the efficiency of its air defenses in shooting down Houthi missiles.
“I believe our posture in the theater has prevented a state on state attack from Iran,” McKenzie said. It’s not clear how he determined that, since while the Saudis and Iranians have long been at odds over leadership of the Middle East, there have also reportedly been several attempts at burying the hatchet since the two nations cut formal relations in 2016.
As the US shifts its strategic focus toward “great power confrontation” with Russia and China, US commanders in regions that once enjoyed greater focus, such as the Middle East and Africa, are raising concerns about the future of their own missions if their manpower is lost to Asian or European bases.
However, McKenzie said that even if the US troop presence in Saudi Arabia is numerically…