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US to bolster military presence in Saudi Arabia; to send 3,000 more troops

The United States has announced to deploy additional 3,000 troops to Saudi Arabia in view of the “increased threat perception” due to drone attacks on oil facilities.

The US has blamed Iran for the attacks.

“Today, an additional 3,000 troops will flow to Saudi Arabia,” Special US Envoy for Iran Brian Hook told reporters at the State Department.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet, “The United States is deploying additional forces and military equipment to Saudi Arabia to enhance its defensive capabilities and to help restore deterrence against Iranian aggression.”Pompeo said the Iranian regime should either “change its behaviour” or “watch its economy collapse”.

In an interaction with reporters, Hook said Saudi Arabia was a long-standing security partner of the US and had requested an additional support to supplement their defences and defend the rules-based international order.

This decision is supported by many partners in the region, who were on the frontlines of the Iranian aggression, he said.

Hook added that since May, the Department of Defense had increased the number of forces by approximately 14,000 to the CENTCOM area of responsibility as an investment in regional security.

Reiterating that the Trump administration did not want a conflict with Iran, Hook, however, said, “We stand with our partners and our allies to safeguard global commerce and regional stability.”

Hook also asked the international community be a part of the efforts.

“Nations around the world need to hold Iran accountable, press it to de-escalate and join us in our commitment to providing stability in the region,” he said, adding that “willful blindness” in the face of threats did not advance peace.

Hook asserted that the US administration implemented their pressure campaign against Iran with two primary objectives.

Firstly, to “deprive” the Iranian regime of the money it needed to “destabilise the Middle East and terrorise other regions”.

Secondly, to bring her on to the negotiating table to conclude a “comprehensive and enduring deals”.

“The pressure on Iran continues to mount. Iran’s economy contracted by roughly 5 per cent last year and probably will shrink by more than 10 per cent this year. We estimate that Iran’s economy could contract by as much as 14 per cent, sending it into a deep depression,” he said.

The Iranian regime, he said, was now tapping unconventional sources like privatising state assets and drawing on its sovereign wealth fund to make up for the massive shortfall.

Increasingly, Iran would be forced to choose between printing money or delaying spending on infrastructure development, salaries and benefits, he said, adding that it could either “act like a country or a cause”.

Iran must change its behaviour and act like a normal nation or it would watch its economy crumble, he added.

Hook said their focus would be on working with partners to “defend themselves from attacks and raise the cost of aggression”.

“As we raise the cost of Iran’s expansionism and foreclose the possibility of prolonging the status quo, Iran will continue to find that its violence will only earn it isolation and censure,” he said.

Source: Business Standard