“The administration of US President Joe Biden is in the process of withdrawing anti-Patriot missile batteries from countries in the Middle East, such as Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
According to what the newspaper quoted officials in the US Department of Defense (Pentagon), Washington will withdraw approximately 8 Patriot batteries.
The newspaper added: “The THAAD anti-missile system will also be withdrawn from Saudi Arabia, and the jet squadrons designated for the region will be reduced, and the redeployment includes hundreds of American soldiers working in the military units that operate or support these missile systems.”
The newspaper pointed out that most of the military equipment that will be withdrawn is in Saudi Arabia.
According to officials quoted by the newspaper, the recent US military cuts that had not been reported before, began earlier this month, after a call on June 2, in which US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin informed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with changes.
The newspaper also quoted officials in the administration of President Joe Biden, that the redeployment is part of Washington’s plans to focus on the challenges posed by China and Russia.
This step comes at a time when the US military is planning a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan by this summer, and after Washington reduced last fall its forces deployed in Iraq by half (nearly 2,500 soldiers), and justified this by the ability of the Iraqi forces to secure the country.
“The withdrawal of the missile batteries comes as part of Washington’s review of its military status in the region,” said James Farwell, the former US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategic Support.
He added in an interview with Al Jazeera that the United States may focus on using diplomacy more than military capabilities in the region.
In turn, military expert Mamoun Abu Nowar told Al Jazeera: “The US justification for withdrawing the batteries is ambiguous, although this is not the first time to withdraw US forces from the region, but there is a question about withdrawing THAAD anti-ballistic missiles, whether Houthi or Iranian.”
It should be noted that the United States deployed the Patriot missile system in Iraq after the Ain al-Assad base, where American forces are stationed, was subjected to an Iranian missile attack in January 2020, in response to the assassination of the Quds Force commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Qassem Soleimani.
Source: Al Jazeera