Back in September, following the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais which crippled some 50% of Saudi Arabia’s oil production capacity, the US sent troops to the kingdom, ostensibly for “defense” purposes and to further America’s interests in the region.
In a press conference on September 20, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the new deployment. Asked by a reporter if “this now represents a full US commitment to defend Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure”?, Esper said the purpose is to “contribute to Saudi Arabia’s defense.”
He made it clear that the US expects the same from other nations. “We are looking for other international partners to contribute”, he said.
Fast forward four months and the US has, of course, deployed hundreds (and probably thousands) of additional troops to the Mideast as tensions escalate with Iran.
Apparently, “stop endless wars” means committing 17,300 additional troops. That is the total number of “new” boots on the ground under the Trump administration.
During his dubious interview with Laura Ingraham, Trump talked a bit about the deployment in Saudi Arabia. Suffice to say his remarks were unnerving, at best.
“We’re sending more to Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia is paying us for it”, Trump patiently explained, clearly oblivious to just how egregious his remarks came across.
“I said to Saudi Arabia, I said ‘You’re a very rich country, you want more troops, I’m gonna send ’em to you, but you gotta pay us“, Trump continued, making sure to growl when he said “pay us”. “They’re paying us. They’ve already deposited $1 billion in the bank”.
During the same interview, Trump told Ingraham that he believed Qassem Soleimani was set to target “four US embassies” before he was killed in a US drone strike earlier this month. Mike Pompeo made a similar claim last week. On Sunday, Mark Esper came up a bit short when asked if he was familiar with that intelligence. Senator Mike Lee said the “four embassies” story was “news to me and my colleagues”.
Commenting on Trump’s remarks about turning the US military into a mercenary force for Mohammed Bin Salman, Independent Justin Amash said simply: “He sells troops”.