Satellite photos show the United States has removed a significant number of its advanced missile defense systems and Patriot missile batteries from Saudi Arabia in recent days.
Photos obtained and published by The Associated Press showed that Prince Sultan Air Base previously had a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) unit, another missile defense system, and Patriot missiles provided by the United States. But those batteries are no longer at base, according to satellite photos taken in late August and reviewed by the AP.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, “The Department of Defense continues to maintain thousands of forces and a strong force posture representing some of our most advanced air power and maritime capabilities in the Middle East in support of America’s national interests and our regional partnerships.” Is.” Outlet in response to questions about the move. The Epoch Times has contacted the Pentagon for comment.
Over the past several years, amid Saudi incursions into nearby Yemen, the country’s Houthi rebels have fired missiles and conducted drone strikes against Saudi assets. The United States deployed two Patriot missile systems after attacks on Saudi oil production sites in 2019 as Washington blamed Iran for the attacks, although Tehran has denied the allegations.
According to news reports, on 5 September state officials said it intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Houthi rebels near the Saudi city of Dammam.
Amid the missile defense pullout, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal said in a recent interview that he wants Washington to show it is committed to the kingdom, urging Americans to abandon defense systems in the country.
“I think we need to be reassured about the US commitment,” al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief, told CNBC. “It seems, for example, not to withdraw Patriot missiles from Saudi Arabia when Saudi Arabia is the victim of missile strikes and drone strikes – not just from Yemen, but from Iran,” he said.
Meanwhile, as the United States pulled out of Afghanistan after a decades-long military occupation, questions were raised about whether the Biden administration would be able to fully protect American allies and the interests of the world. The Afghan government fell to the Taliban extremist group within just two weeks, leading the United States to carry out a chaotic and quick evacuation, which was halted by a terrorist attack that killed 13 service members in late August. Went.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin traveled to several Middle Eastern countries in recent days, but a scheduled trip to Saudi Arabia was canceled due to an alleged scheduling problem. It is not clear whether he will return to the state in the near future.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times