Just weeks ago, the Saudi government asked the US to help defend them against the Houthis or a potential attack by Iran; now the Pentagon has said the Saudis are capable of shouldering most of their defensive needs in their war in Yemen.
The US has already begun withdrawing some of its air defense forces from several Middle Eastern countries as it shifts them back to the US for maintenance, according to a Friday report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
In all, the withdrawal amounts to hundreds of troops who crew and maintain the batteries, which for Patriots can include a radar, engagement control station, antenna mast group, electric power plant, and up to 16 separate missile launchers. For THAAD, each battery includes two mobile tactical operations centers, a powerful ground-based radar, and at least six missile launch systems.
A senior defense official said on Friday that the pullout returns the US to a more typical deployment in the region after years of tensions with Iran stoked by the Trump administration and a raging war in Yemen by the Saudis and their allies. While Riyadh’s war against the rebel Houthi movement in Yemen continues, in recent weeks significant progress has been made by the Biden administration in negotiations to return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a deal with Iran and six other nations.
In Iran, presidential elections were held on Friday in which President Hassan Rouhani, the leader who signed the JCPOA with…