President Donald Trump on Friday, Sept. 21, approved the deployment of additional U.S. troops and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates following last week’s drone attacks on two oil facilities.
“The president has approved the deployment of U.S. forces, which will be defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Pentagon reporters.
“As the president has made clear, the United States does not seek conflict with Iran. That said, we have many other military options available should they be necessary,” Esper continued.
He said that this is a first step toward improving security and that he would not rule out further moves down the road. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that more details about the deployment will be determined in the coming days, but it would not involve thousands of U.S. troops.
Other officials said the U.S. deployment would likely be in the hundreds and Patriot missile batteries and possibly enhanced radars would likely be included in the defensive equipment heading to the Middle East.
To avoid an all-out war with Iran
President Trump told reporters earlier in the day that showing restraint “shows far more strength” than launching military strikes and he wanted to avoid an all-out war with Iran.
Instead, he laid out new sanctions on the Iranian central bank and said the easiest thing to do would be to launch military strikes.
“I think the strong person’s approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “Much easier to do it the other way, and Iran knows that if they misbehave, they are on borrowed time.”
Dunford told reporters that additional gear and troops would give the Saudis a better chance to defend themselves against unconventional aerial attacks.
“No single system is going to be able to defend against a threat like that,” he said, “but a layered system of defensive capabilities would mitigate the risk of swarms of drones or other attacks that may come from Iran.”
Esper on Friday said the drones and cruise missiles used in the attack were produced by Iran.
“The attack on Sept. 14 against Saudi Arabian oil facilities represents a dramatic escalation of Iranian aggression,” Esper said, adding that the United States has thus far shown “great restraint.”
Iran has denied involvement and warned the United States that any attack will spark an “all-out war” with immediate retaliation from Tehran.
The disastrous Iran Nuclear Deal
Iran feels a false sense of confidence in talking to the United States because, thanks to the disastrous Iran Nuclear Deal signed under Barack Obama, it has secretly built up its stockpile of weapons.
Under Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal, Iran promised never to acquire nuclear weapons, but there have been multiple indications that Iran hasn’t follow the deal.
In the lopsided deal, Obama lifted economic sanctions that had financially crippled Iran for decades, unfrozen assets of $150 billion, and sent Iran $400 million in cash.
President Trump has repeatedly criticized the deal, calling it dangerous and stupid.
“It was the single worst deal ever,” Trump said in 2017. “It’s a disgrace that a deal like that was even signed. It made Iran a power from a country that was ready to fall apart.”
Includes reporting from the Associated Press.
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