The U.S. has transferred a “significant number” of Patriot interception missiles to Saudi Arabia in response to recent missile and drone attacks against the kingdom, also at the request of Riyadh.
U.S. officials stated that “the transfers sought to ensure that Saudi Arabia is adequately supplied with the defensive munitions it needs to fend off drone and missile attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen.”
According to reports, the interceptors had been stored elsewhere in the Middle East prior to the transfer to Saudi Arabia. Spokesman for the U.S. State Department indicated that Washington and the Biden administration had “been working with Saudi Arabia and its neighbors to help them strengthen their air defenses in response to a rising number of aerial attacks from Yemen.”
Since taking office, Joe Biden’s policies regarding the Yemen civil war had caused tensions in the relationship between Washington and Riyadh, and they had been “rocky for more than a year.”
There are reports that “Biden will not communicate directly with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and last year released an intelligence report implicating him in the murder of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.” “And the United States in September withdrew some of its own Patriot defense systems from Saudi Arabia amid ongoing Houthi attacks.”
March 20th saw Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen fire multiple suicide drones and missiles at targets in southern Saudi Arabia in an attempt to cause damage to crucial infrastructure, including an oil refinery and water desalination plant.
Washington also verified that “the U.S. has supplied more than $100 billion worth of weapons to the kingdom in the past decade and has used the country to keep a U.S. force presence in the region amid ongoing tensions with Iran and counterterrorism missions against Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.”
International media reports noted that Saudi Arabia declined to accept a phone call from President Biden, who was hoping to ask if Saudi Arabia could increase their oil exports to help stabilise global oil prices.