US Defence Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Saudi Arabia, marking the first official visit to a crucial Middle East partner since he assumed office as Pentagon chief earlier this summer, amidst an escalating unease between Washington and Tehran. Russia, in the meantime, attempts to deepen and assert its influence in the region, Reuters reported on Monday, October 21st.
US-Iran tensions have been brewing since Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal on May 8th, 2018, with the US imposing sanctions against Iran’s economy in the months since.
The president had stated at the time that the deal failed to sufficiently limit Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons or halt its support for militias throughout the Middle East that the US argues would send the region into turmoil, according to The Guardian newspaper.
The Pentagon confirmed earlier this month that it would deploy 3,000 additional troops and military hardware to Saudi Arabia, boosting the country’s defences in the aftermath of the two Saudi oil facilities attack.
US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper authorised the deployment of two more Patriot missile batteries, one THAAD ballistic missile interception system, two fighter squadrons, and one air expeditionary wing, the Pentagon said in a statement, according to Al Arabiya.
Esper is due to meet Saudi leaders and American troops while in the kingdom.