U.S. President Joe Biden has ordered the Pentagon to reduce its military equipments and troops in the Middle East.

US President Joe Biden
[US President Joe Biden/Collected]

For decades the world superpower had an unofficial deal with the oil-rich monarchies in the Gulf region. This is an U.S. military protection in exchange for secure access to oil. But now it seems Washington is realigning its global military footprint, away from the region.

U.S. President Joe Biden has ordered the Pentagon to reduce its military equipments and troops in the Middle East. According tp Wall Street Journal (WSJ) at least three 'Patriot' Anti-missile batteries have been withdraw including one from Prince Sultan Airbase in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia(KSA) which has been placed there just two years ago during the heightened tension with Iran.
Tank photo in Middle East war
[Tank in Middle East War]

The drawdown comes as the Saudi Arabia faces an increasing number of rocket and missile attacks from Iran backed Yemeni Houthi forces. In just last couple of months Houthi rebels have launched more than 40 drone, missile or rocket attacks on Saudi soil. Attacked place includes Saudi's economic lifeline, the oil plants and refineries. 

Since taking office in January, Biden has pledged to recalibrate the U.S.- Saudi ties and that includes freezing arms sales to Kingdom worth hundreds of billions of dollars. 
F-15 fighter jet Royal Saudi Air Force
[F-15 fighter jet, RSAF/Collected] 

United States is the biggest arms exporter in the world and the KSA is its number on customer. Saudi Arabia is also world's number one arms importer according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute(SIPRI) and India is on second position. 

For nearly 75 years the U.S. and KSA have been major strategic allies, trying to keep the Middle East stable for their own benefit benefit. The Saudi's have long claimed that their U.S. exported weapons were needed to defend against Iran. But far too often they have used them elsewhere. 

The fighter jets, the bombs, the training and intelligence much of it is applied to the Saudi's by the U.S.
US Army firing mortar
[US Army mortar firing, Afghanistan]

Currently there are about 50,000 US troops in the Middle East.During Trump administration’s high voltage tension between Iran and US, the number was 90,000 back in 2019.
Bidens new orders could mean that thousands of troops will be leaving the region soon. 

The US's heavy military footprint in the Gulf is nothing new. The oil-rich Gulf has relied on America for protection for decades. In 1991, The United States launched Operation Desert Storm to oust Iraqi forces from Kuwait. That marked the beginning of America's endless wars in the Middle East. 

Just 12 years later the U.S. would invade Iraq to overthrow long-time ruler Saddam Hussein. After peaking at nearly a hundred and seventy thousand troops in 2007 the U.S. began a steady withdrawal. Today there are 2,500 U.S. soldiers there despite years of promises to leave. 

Now it appears that the new administration is taking steps to refocus Washington’s attention away from the Middle East. According to WSJ," Other capabilities including an aircraft carrier and surveillance systems are being diverted from the Middle East to answer military needs elsewhere around the globe.
Ancient map of Middle East
[Middle East ancient map]

Several presidents have tried to decrease U.S. involvement in the Middle East but without much success. Threats from upstart terrorist groups like Daesh(ISIS) and civil war in Syria drew the U.S. back in just as it was leaving. 

But now Biden could be serious as he has clearly outlined America's greatest long-term threats and challenges lie elsewhere. 


Disclaimer : This article first appeared on TRT World's Double Check documentary. 
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