King Salman, the supreme commander of the Saudi military, recently agreed to host US forces in the Kingdom to enhance joint efforts in defense of security and stability in the region. The Pentagon said: “The deployment of our forces in Saudi Arabia provides additional deterrence and enhances our ability to protect our interests.”
No more than 500 US troops will be deployed in Saudi Arabia. This represents the smallest deployment of US military forces in any country. Germany and South Korea, for example, each host more than 34,000 US troops, and there are about 11,000 in Italy. The country with the greatest number of US troops is Japan, with 44,000. Even Turkey hosts about 2,000 American soldiers.
The decision by King Salman comes the face of escalating threats by Iran and its proxies who seek to transform the Middle East into an unsafe region through numerous terrorist operations carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Iran’s sectarian militias. The latter include the Houthis in Yemen, the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon, along with other militias, factions and subgroups that are working to implement the Iranian “project” with the aim of destabilizing and controlling the security of the region.
The wise leadership of Saudi Arabia made a clear decision to confront Iran and eliminate the threats it poses to the region. It was serious and firm in its response when it answered the call from the legitimate government of Yemen for help to face the Houthi coup, restore legitimacy to the country, keep its borders safe and preserve Yemen’s identity as an Arab country.
King Salman’s decision to welcome US forces sends a clear message to Iran that the time of complacency has ended and that Saudi Arabia is taking a stand against all terrorist activities in the region carried out by the Mullahs’ malicious regime.
In an interview, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also defense minister, said that the Kingdom will not sit and wait for terrorist attacks orchestrated by Iran, but will take serious action to confront the threat and take the battle into the heart of Iran. This is already happening, without a single shot being fired, through the imposition of economic sanctions that are suffocating the Iranian regime. It follows a request by the crown prince to the White House for a new era in the region in which the Iranian regime is besieged and its militias are deprived of financial or military support.
Even if Saudi Arabia had agreed to host only one US soldier, it would be condemned by those who hate the Kingdom. These critics are hypocrites who ignore the fact that their proxies and treacherous allies host tens of thousands of soldiers, experts and in some cases even American military intelligence agents.
We do not care about their spiteful propaganda, therefore. We have great trust in the Saudi leadership and its wise decisions as it faces the Iranian tutelage project, along with all of Tehran’s terrorist proxies that seek the destruction of the autonomous Arab and Islamic worlds. We remember that Saudi Arabia welcomed the US army to Saudi Arabia for the first time in the early 1990s to help liberate Kuwait, and that the last US soldier left Saudi territory in 2003.
The return of the US military to the Kingdom is part of the efforts to counter Iran’s activities and protect the region from its brand of “mobile terrorism.” Saudi Arabia is doing all it can for the Arab and Islamic peoples.
• Jerry Maher is a Lebanese political writer and analyst specializing in the Middle East and Iran.