BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:25 P.M.) – U.S. media reported that the United States is preparing to withdraw Patriot missile defense systems from Saudi Arabia in addition to reducing its military presence in the Kingdom.
The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying that the United States will withdraw 4 Patriot batteries from Saudi Arabia, in addition to dozens of military personnel who were sent there after the missile attacks on oil installations last year.
The officials added that the United States has withdrawn two squadrons of combat aircraft, and will also consider reducing the U.S. naval presence in the Gulf.
According to the newspaper’s sources, the reduction of the American military capabilities in Saudi Arabia is based on assessments that Iran no longer represents a direct threat to the strategic interests of the United States in the region.
For its part, sources said to the American media “The Hill” that the United States will reduce the number of Patriot batteries in Saudi Arabia from 4 to 2, and two other batteries will be removed from another country in the region.
Some media indicated that the withdrawal process is still going on, as a U.S. official told Bloomberg, that the United States has withdrawn two Patriot batteries from Saudi Arabia and two others from the region.
According to the official, the battery withdrawal was due to take place last March, but was postponed due to the missile attacks on the Taji camp in Iraq, which the United States blames for pro-Iranian groups.
The official added that the Patriot systems of the Saudi forces will replace the two American batteries in the Kingdom.
He stressed that 12 batteries of Patriot missiles and one of the Thaad air defense missiles will remain in the region.
U.S. President Donald Trump declined to comment on the withdrawal of weapons and troops from the Middle East, saying: “I don’t want to talk about that but we are taking some steps … and we are taking many steps in the Middle East and elsewhere, and many measures in the military field around the world.”