Over the past weeks, the United States has withdrawn missiles and military equipment from Saudi Arabia, while Washington is preparing to end combat missions in Iraq at the end of this year.
An expert in military and strategic affairs, Fayez Al-Duwairi, said in an interview with Al-Hurra that “the withdrawal of anti-missile systems from Saudi Arabia can be viewed from two angles. Its action to confront the Chinese dragon, and the second is that it indicates tension in relations between Riyadh and Washington.
But the Saudi political analyst, Suleiman Al-Aqili, sees the opposite. He told Al-Hurra that “Saudi-American relations are strong and strategic relations.”
Al-Aqili added that “despite the change of administrations every 4 years, and despite the fact that there were sometimes differences in views during the administration of former US President Donald Trump, it did not reach the degree of differences that are currently unfolding with the current administration headed by US President Joe Biden.”
Al-Aqili explained that Riyadh “is fully aware of the change in US policy regarding the withdrawal of forces and weapons from the Middle East, and the abandonment of the concept of protection that President Trump has promoted over the past years.”
Al-Aqili indicated that Saudi Arabia “understands the difference in some propositions”, but it will not be able to understand “the failure in Saudi security, and the provision of weapons that protect Saudi airspace,” stressing that Saudi Arabia “discusses files related to its security with the US administration, or with the administrations of different countries such as Russia and China”.
Al-Duwairi explains that “this decision is not surprising, even though Saudi Arabia receives daily attacks via remote drones or missiles coming from the Houthis towards Saudi interests.”
Al-Duwairi added that despite the United States’ assurances to its allies in the Middle East, “its policy toward the region has changed since President Joe Biden came to power, and this military withdrawal from Prince Sultan Military Base is not the first during the recent period.”
He pointed out that despite the increased Houthi dangers to Saudi Arabia, Washington is reducing its military presence in the Middle East, and “may be part of a message to Riyadh that the United States does not want to continue interfering in long-term conflicts.”
But Al-Aqili stressed that Saudi Arabia “will not tolerate the file of the country’s security and the Kingdom’s air security, and for this reason Riyadh has directed its compass in some files towards the Russian side, and will keep its options open with everyone.”
Al-Duwairi believes that this withdrawal stems from an “undeclared dispute” between Riyadh and Washington, especially if he takes into account the lifting of confidentiality on files linking Saudi Arabia and the events of September 11, in addition to the failure of the US Secretary of Defense to visit Saudi Arabia during his tour in the region.
Al-Aqili believes that Saudi-US relations “may have reached the lowest levels during the current period, and that some demands, whether those related to human rights, the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, or human rights in Yemen, are not real.”
In the presence of voices saying that this withdrawal comes with the aim of increasing the American focus on the Asian region and confronting China, Al-Duwairi stressed that if all the Patriot defense batteries in Saudi Arabia were withdrawn, it would not change the balance of power between the two sides at all.
A report published by the “Axisos” website indicates that the Arab Gulf states are “increasingly concerned about Washington’s plans for the region, and its view of the increasing danger coming from Asia.”
Prince Sultan Air Base has hosted thousands of American soldiers since an attack on oil production believed to have been carried out by Iran through the Houthi group.
The United States removed its most advanced missile defense system and Patriot batteries from Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, even as the kingdom faced persistent air attacks from Houthi rebels in Yemen, according to satellite images analyzed by the Associated Press.
Christian Ollerchsen, a researcher at the James Baker Institute, told the Associated Press that what is happening gives an image that “the United States is not as committed to the Gulf as it was before.”
But the question is, has Washington changed its military priorities in the region? John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, may have answered him, when he said that the United States “has maintained a broad and deep commitment to its allies in the Middle East, and that the Department of Defense maintains tens of thousands of American forces within the Middle East that provide support to the national interests of Washington and its partners.” regionals”.