US to send troops to Saudi Arabia, UAE

President Donald Trump has approved the deployment of US troops and missile defence equipment to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) a week after two Saudi oil facilities came under attack claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels and blamed on Iran by Riyadh and Washington.

The move late on Friday comes after Iran warned of an all-out war if attacked and Houthi rebels said it will stop targeting Saudi Arabia as a continuation of the war in Yemen could lead to further loss of lives.

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper, above, told Pentagon there are clear indications of Iran’s role in the attack last weekend in which drones and cruise missiles were used.

Following the incident, Saudi Arabia and the UAE sought protection and the US is responding by deploying forces which will be defensive in nature, Esper said.

The troop deployment, although not massive, will send a clear message that the US supports its partners in the region.

The US does not want a conflict with Iran but it has many military options available if a war breaks out, Esper said.

Pentagon will quickly move military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the UAE to help them defend against potential airstrikes, he said, adding that more troops will be deployed if the situation changes.

While the defence secretary claimed that Iran was behind last weekend’s drone raids, he did not explain what led the US and Saudi investigators to conclude that the missiles and drones came from Iran and not Yemen.

The US announcement of troop deployment came hours after Washington imposed new sanctions on Iran’s central bank over the drone attacks.

In the meantime, Houthi rebels are awaiting a positive response from Riyadh after they decided to end hostilities with the kingdom to save lives.

Mahdi al-Mashat, head of the Houthi’s supreme political council, said war is not in anyone’s interest.

Between March 2015 and December 2017, more than 13,000 people, including 5,200 civilians, were killed in Yemen.

Famine due to war killed more than 50,000 people.

Al-Mashat’s announcement comes hours after the Saudi-led military coalition attacked sites used for assembling unmanned boats and sea mines near Hodeida, Yemen’s main port on the Red Sea, Reuters reported.

The action followed a failed attempt by Houthi rebels to send an unmanned boat laden with explosives to a Saudi port.