The good news is that it appears President Donald Trump won’t be launching a war against Iran today. However, the administration will be sending U.S. troops and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, following an attack last weekend against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the deployment on Friday. According to the Associated Press, the number of troops sent will be in the hundreds, along with Patriot missile batteries and enhanced radars.
Last Saturday, oil facilities in Saudi Arabia were struck during a coordinated attack by drones and missiles, affecting about 5% of the world’s oil supplies, according to CNN. Speaking to reporters on Friday, Esper said that Iran was behind the attacks.
“The attack on Sept. 14 against Saudi Arabian oil facilities represents a dramatic escalation of Iranian aggression,” Esper said, according to the AP.
However, the report also notes that U.S. officials have not provided evidence that Iran carried out the attacks. U.S. Central Command reportedly is investigating debris but has not yet issued an assessment.
Iran has denied the allegation, warning the U.S. that any attack against that country in response would prompt an “all-out war,” according to the AP. Houthi rebels fighting Saudi Arabia in Yemen have claimed responsibility for last weekend’s strike against the oil facilities.
Also on Friday, Trump announced new sanctions against Iran’s central bank and its sovereign wealth fund, and praised himself for demonstrating “restraint” in avoiding a boneheaded and dangerous war against Iran.
“I think the strong person’s approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint,” Trump told reporters. “Much easier to do it the other way, and Iran knows that if they misbehave, they are on borrowed time.”
Trump also said Iran would be “going to hell,” and that “a lot of people respect” his restraint on the matter.
Last Sunday, Trump tweeted that the U.S. was “locked and loaded” and awaiting Saudi Arabia’s orders on how to proceed. The next day, he noted that the U.S. is beholden to the country because “Saudi Arabia pays cash.”
The same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin trolled Trump by saying at a press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that Saudi Arabia should buy Russian air defense systems instead of U.S. ones.
“These kinds of systems are capable of defending any kind of infrastructure in Saudi Arabia from any kind of attack,” Putin said, according to Politico.