Deployment of 3,000 US troops to Saudi Arabia almost complete

US aircraft carrier strike group Abraham Lincoln passing through the Strait of Hormuz Tuesday. (US Navy)
Updated 20 November 2019

Deployment of 3,000 US troops to Saudi Arabia almost complete

  • Donald Trump tells House that full deployment will arrive in the Kingdom in coming weeks
  • US aircraft carrier strike group Abraham Lincoln sails through the Strait of Hormuz

WASHINGTON: The number of US troops in Saudi Arabia will reach 3,000 in the coming weeks as Washington boosts its forces in the Kingdom to help defend against Iran.

In a letter to the House of Represntatives on Tuesday, Donald Trump said the forces had been deployed “to assure our partners, deter further Iranian provocative behavior, and bolster regional defensive capabilities.”

The Pentagon said last month it has approved the deployment of the troops and military hardware to Saudi Arabia in response to the September drone and missile attack on the Kingdom’s oil facilities.

Trump said the forces included radar and missile systems to “improve defenses against air and missile threats”, an expeditionary wing to support fighter aircraft from Saudi Arabia, and two fighter squadrons.  

He said some of the forces had already arrived in the Kingdom and that the rest will be in place in the coming weeks.

 

 

“Iran has continued to threaten the security of the region, including by attacking oil and natural gas facilities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Sept. 14, 2019,” Trump said in the letter.

The attack on the world’s largest oil processing plant at Abqaiq and the Khurais oil field, causing large fires and halving the country’s oil output.

The attack, blamed on Iran, was the peak of months of tensions in which Tehran was also blamed for attacks on shipping, leading to the US bolstering its military presence in the region.

On Tuesday, the US aircraft carrier strike group Abraham Lincoln sailed through the Strait of Hormuz, where the attacks on shipping have taken place.


Saudi Arabia stops issuing visas to tourists from countries worst hit by coronavirus

Updated 10 min 7 sec ago

Saudi Arabia stops issuing visas to tourists from countries worst hit by coronavirus

  • Tourist visas will still be available electronically or upon arrival to citizens of other qualifying countries

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism announced on Friday that it has temporarily stopped issuing tourist visas to people in certain countries particularly badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

The affected nations are China, Italy, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Kazakhstan. The decision applies both to electronic visas obtained online and traditional visas issued upon arrival. In addition, tourist visas previously issued to residents of the listed countries will be temporarily suspended.

Tourist visas will still be available electronically or upon arrival to citizens of other qualifying countries, but as a precaution they will not be allowed to visit Makkah or Madinah.

People in countries that are not eligible for electronic visas can check whether they can travel to the Kingdom by calling a helpline on 0096 692 000 0890. Residents of the US, the UK and Schengen nations can call the same number to check whether they can obtain a tourist visa.

The Ministry of Tourism said that the restrictions were designed to protect citizens, residents and tourists, in line with recommendations from health authorities.

“These procedures are temporary and are subject to continuous evaluation by the competent authorities,” a spokesman for the ministry said.

The latest restrictions come a day after Saudi authorities announced temporary bans on Umrah pilgrims and visits to the Prophet’s Mosque. They also said that holders of tourist visas from the countries worst affected by the virus would be refused entry to the country.

Also on Thursday, the Saudi health ministry said there are still “no known cases” of the coronavirus in the Kingdom.